Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD)

It's estimated that 2-5%

of people worldwide live with PMDD.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD) is an aggravating mental health disorder that presents in childhood. DMDD is characterized by chronic and extreme irritability combined with intermittent tantrums that are disproportionate to the circumstances. Treatment options for DMDD include talk therapy (psychotherapy) combined with medication to address the symptoms and improve the child’s well-being.

Read on to discover:

  • What is DMDD?
  • What is disruptive mood dysregulation disorder in adults?
  • What are the disruptive mood dysregulation disorder criteria?
  • Is there disruptive mood dysregulation disorder medication available?
  • How to connect with treatment for DMDD in Southern California.
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What is Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder?

DMDD is a mental health disorder that is characterized by chronic irritability combined with frequent outbursts of anger in children.

While it is common for children to experience moodiness, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is more persistent and severe, with temper outbursts that are intense and prolonged. The disorder significantly impacts a child’s daily life, affecting their ability to function well at home, school, and with friends. Academic performance, relationships with peers, and family interactions may be negatively affected by the child’s excessive irritability and seemingly unprovoked anger reactions to minor triggers. 

Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help children manage these challenges effectively.

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Symptoms of DMDD

DMDD is characterized by specific symptoms that can dramatically impact a child’s emotional and behavioral well-being. Identifying these symptoms can streamline early detection and intervention.

These are the key disruptive mood dysregulation disorder symptoms:

  • Chronic and extreme irritability: Children with DMDD often experience persistent and severe irritability, which is more frequent and intense than typically observed in their peers. They may find it challenging to manage their emotions, leading to ongoing feelings of frustration and annoyance.
  • Regular temper outbursts: One of the hallmark features of DMDD is the occurrence of temper outbursts. These outbursts involve verbal or behavioral expressions of anger that are disproportionate to the situation at hand. The child may have difficulty controlling these outbursts, leading to disruptions in their daily life.
  • Impaired functioning: DMDD can significantly impair a child’s functioning at home, school, or social settings. The chronic irritability and temper outbursts may affect their academic performance, relationships with peers, and family dynamics.
  • Multiple environments: The symptoms of DMDD are not limited to a specific setting. Rather, they manifest across different environments, whether at home, school, or in the presence of peers. This pervasive nature of symptoms underscores the significance of seeking professional help.
  • Duration and frequency: To meet the diagnostic criteria for DMDD, the symptoms must persist for at least 12 months, with no period of three or more consecutive months without symptoms. This chronicity differentiates DMDD from typical mood fluctuations observed in children.
  • Onset before age 10: The symptoms of DMDD must have begun before the age of 10 to be considered for diagnosis. Early recognition can help facilitate intervention and support.


Recognizing these symptoms can aid parents, educators, and healthcare professionals in identifying potential cases of DMDD and seeking appropriate evaluation and treatment. Early intervention can significantly improve the child’s quality of life and overall well-being.

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How is DMDD Diagnosed?

Diagnosing DMDD involves a comprehensive assessment by qualified mental health professionals.

The initial step is a clinical evaluation, where a child and adolescent psychologist or psychiatrist conducts a thorough assessment of the child’s emotional and behavioral symptoms. They gather information about the child’s medical and family history, developmental milestones, and any previous psychiatric diagnoses or treatments.

 Mental healthcare professionals use disruptive mood dysregulation disorder DSM-5 criteria to determine if the child’s symptoms align with DMDD. DSM-5-TR is the fifth revised edition of American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder DSM 5 criteria and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder ICD 10 criteria involve duration and frequency of symptoms.

 To aid in the evaluation, mental health professionals utilize specialized assessment tools tailored to assess DMDD and related conditions. These tools help gather information from different perspectives, including parents, teachers, and the child themselves.

 DMDD must be differentiated from other mental health conditions that may present similar symptoms, such as bipolar disorder or ODD (oppositional defiant disorder). Mental health professionals carefully assess the child’s symptoms and history to rule out other potential diagnoses. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the child’s behavior, mental health professionals may observe the child in various settings –  at home, school, or during social interactions, for instance.

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Depression symptoms can vary widely from person to person. The severity and duration of these symptoms may also differ. Experiencing occasional sadness or low moods does not necessarily indicate depression. However, when these feelings persist and significantly interfere with daily life, it may be a sign of clinical depression. If you are wondering, “Am I depressed”, here are some common signs of depression:

What does disruptive mood dysregulation disorder feel like?

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder feels like ongoing irritability and outbursts of anger that are disproportionate to the circumstances, leading to disruption in daily life.

Is DMDD a form of bipolar disorder?

DMDD is not a form of bipolar disorder, but it can share some overlapping symptoms. DMDD is characterized by chronic irritability and temper outbursts, while bipolar disorder involves intense shifts in mood and energy levels.

Is DMDD on the autism spectrum?

DMDD is not on the autism spectrum. It is a separate diagnosis that involves chronic irritability and severe temper outbursts in children.

What causes disruptive mood dysregulation disorder?

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder causes are not fully understood, but the condition likely develops from a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors.

Can you outgrow DMDD?

While some children may experience a reduction in DMDD symptoms as they grow older, it is not something that can be simply outgrown. Proper treatment and management are essential for improved outcomes.

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If you have been feeling any of these symptoms, and you are in need of help, please give our friendly team a call.


 An accurate diagnosis of DMDD sets the foundation for a targeted and effective treatment plan. Early identification and intervention can drastically improve the child’s coping abilities and overall functioning, leading to a better quality of life. If you suspect that your child may be experiencing symptoms of DMDD, seek professional evaluation and guidance to ensure timely support and care.

Diagnosis often involves a collaborative approach, where mental health professionals work closely with the child’s parents, teachers, and other caregivers to gather additional information and insights into the child’s behavior. Given the chronic and persistent nature of DMDD, mental health professionals should assess the child’s symptoms over an extended period, usually at least 12 months. This approach helps confirm the stability and consistency of the diagnosis.

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Get Treatment for Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder at Connections

At Connections Mental Health in Southern California, we are dedicated to providing individualized and compassionate disruptive mood dysregulation disorder treatment. Our primary focus is on creating a safe and nurturing environment where individuals seeking stability can find healing and peace. With our team of expert staff committed to personalized care, we are determined to help people experience profound healing while building lasting connections.

By choosing Connections Mental Health, you are selecting a reliable partner in your journey towards managing DMDD and achieving whole-body healing. Our treatments are based on evidence-based practices and the latest psychiatric science, ensuring the best possible outcomes. You will benefit from 24/7 supervision with at least two staff members present at all times to prioritize your safety and well-being.

With a compassionate-first approach, we specialize in treating the person, not just their symptoms. Our ultimate goal is to create an environment that feels like a home rather than a hospital, where you can heal surrounded by the serene beauty of Southern California.

Whether you or a loved one is experiencing DMDD, our team is here to support you and help restore daily functioning and mental well-being. Engage in compassionate treatment that combines science-backed interventions and holistic therapies, taking the first step towards a brighter future at Connections Mental Health.

Contact us today at (844) 413-0009 to learn more about our personalized treatment plans and start your journey to healing at Connections Mental Health.

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