Are Temper Tantrums a Mood Disorder?

It’s no surprise that I’m talking about temper tantrums seeing as I live in the land of meltdowns. What many of you may not know is that soon kids who throw severe temper tantrums on a regular basis are going to be able to be classified as having a mood disorder. It’s called Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder and it will be added to the list of disorders in the upcoming revision of the DSM. The DSM is the manual we use for diagnosing mental illnesses. The fifth revision will be released in May 2013 and its pages will contain this new childhood disorder for the first time.

I’m a bit conflicted about this for a few reasons. One, I think we have entirely too many diagnoses as it is and we have already stepped over the line into a world of over diagnosing children. I’ll get back to this point in another post. Two, I am not psychic, but I have a fairly good vision of the future on this one.

Whenever we see a new diagnosis, we see an onslaught of individuals rushing to their physicians or other clinicians to be diagnosed. It is an extremely strange phenomenon, but we see it happen all the time within the field. Whenever there is series of exposure in the media to certain illnesses, the same thing occurs. I have no doubt that once this disorder is on the market, parents will be lining up to grab it and slap the label on their children. It seems a bit absurd, but here’s why I think it occurs.

This is one of those disorders that could just be a manifestation of poor parenting. Sorry, parents. But we see it all the time when it comes to behavior disorders with kids. It is the same thing with ADHD. There are clearly kids that have ADHD, but there are also a group of kids who look exactly like they have ADHD, however, their symptoms are simply a manifestation of poor parenting. I fear the same thing will occur with Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. It can be cop out for parents. It shifts the responsibility from their shoulders and places it promptly on the shoulders of a disorder.

Lastly, I’m not really sure what the value of creating a diagnosis for kids having severe temper tantrums is. I love what Dr. Claudia Gold has to say about this. I couldn’t agree more!

The one thing I can’t overlook is the age requirement for the disorder. It can’t be diagnosed until the child is over age 6. Does this mean that up until the age of 6 temper tantrums are considered a part of normal development? Ugh…if that is the case then I have 3 more years to go. Not sure if I can take that…


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4 Responses to Are Temper Tantrums a Mood Disorder?

  1. Mommy Psychologist says:

    Thanks, Carolina. Keep coming back.

  2. Pingback: Kindergarten Tantrum Results in Handcuffs | The Mommy Psychologist

  3. wendy says:

    What if the meltdowns didn’t start until the age of around 9yrs and coincidently started with a bout of strep throat?? I know it may sound crazy but my son CLEARLY has adhd with impulsivity but during winter break came down with strep and after that had a hiccup tic,stomach problems(8mos later we got a dx of cyclic vomiting syndrome) and then because of the fits a dx of odd!!! His teacher even said he was a totally different kid before winter break to the child after winter break….your thoughts??

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Was any kind of medication involved? Did you switch medication before the impulsivity began? Also, what did they put him on for strep throat? My first line of questioning would be looking at any medication issues that might be related to it.

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