Treatment options for the cardinal symptoms of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder

Leon Tourian, Amélie LeBoeuf, Jean Jacques Breton, David Cohen, Martin Gignac, Réal Labelle, Jean Marc Guile, Johanne Renaud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective: DSM-5 has added a new developmentally appropriate child and adolescent mood disorder subtype called disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD). The core features of DMDD are temper outbursts (manifested by either verbal rages and/or physical aggression) and unrelenting irritability or anger. Currently, the literature is lacking a thorough review of the possible treatment options for the cardinal symptoms constituting DMDD. The objective of this article is to provide a thorough review of peer-reviewed studies on the subject of pharmacological treatment options for children and adolescents with the cardinal symptoms of DMDD. Methods: Relevant articles for this study were obtained through Pubmed, Medline, PsychINFO and PsychINDEXplus using the key words: “adolescents,” “children,” “paediatric,” “youth,” “irritability,” “temper outbursts,” “aggression,” “rage,” “disruptive behaviour,” “treatment,” “dysphoria,” “autism,” “mental retardation/intellectual disability,” “impulsivity,” “ADHD,” “oppositional defiant disorder,” and “conduct disorder.” A total of 823 studies were generated; only English studies focusing on pharmacological treatment were retained. Results: Currently there are no established guidelines or thorough reviews summarizing the treatment of DMDD. Pharmacotherapeutic treatment options of both aggression and chronic irritability include: antidepressants/selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, mood stabilizers, psychostimulants, antipsychotics, and alpha-2 agonists. Conclusion: Treatment options of severe, persistent irritability in youth are numerous, and a consensual treatment algorithm has not yet emerged from the literature. Further studies and clinical trials are warranted to determine efficacious and safe treatment modalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-54
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aggression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation
  • Irritability
  • Mood stabilizers


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