There are many things about this world which I don’t understand and sometimes there are things which just leave me hopping mad. This blog, in part, was designed to give me a release valve.
It seems I am not alone and the stresses and strains of modern life can often leave individuals close to boiling point. As civilization has evolved from one where all our time is spent just trying to survive we seem adept at inventing reasons and sources of frustration which cause us to go off the deep end. Watching someone go into an uncontrollable bout of rage can be quite amusing but why are some people more prone to these attacks than others?
According to research published in the ever-popular JAMA Psychiatry, it seems that the cause of these fits of rage is down to an inflammation in the body.
Inevitably, the propensity to these fits of rage has been given a fancy pseudo-scientific name, in this case Intermittent explosive disorder or anger syndrome. What seems to mark out sufferers of IED, according to the researchers from the University of Chicago, are higher markers of inflammation in the blood when compared with those of individuals with a more zen-like approach to life. There are two in particular which correlate consistently with aggressive and impulsive behaviour but not any other form of psychiatric problems.
The researchers have yet to establish whether the inflammation triggers the aggressive outbursts or whether the aggression triggers the inflammation. Either way, they claim that people prone to melt-downs should not be dismissed as simply exhibiting traits of bad behaviour but, rather, should be treated with sympathy as they are suffering from a serious mental health condition which has strong genetic and biomedical roots.
A study into IED conducted in 2006 revealed that as many as 5% of the population suffer from IED, the onset of which can begin as early as age thirteen for boys and nineteen for girls. Sufferers of IED also show a propensity for other forms of mental illness such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse. Other health issues can afflict them including heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, arthritis, ulcers and headaches.
Previously sufferers of IED have been treated with antidepressants because it was thought that the trigger was temporal lobe epilepsy or a drop in the level of serotonin in the body. Now this new link has been established, it may be that the cure could be any drug used to treat inflammation.
So, next time you see someone succumb to a bout of uncontrollable rage, give them an aspirin. It might just work!
Isn’t science wonderful?!