Types of Treatment for Mood Dysregulation Disorder

Beyond the temper tantrums that are common among children, chronic irritability and repeat angry outbursts may indicate illnesses that require special treatment in order to help the child overcome debilitating issues today as well as protect them from devastating consequences later in life.

Diagnosing Mood Dysregulation Disorder

The most recently added diagnosis to the DSM-V is DMDD which is characterized by the American Psychiatric Association as “severe and recurrent temper outbursts that are grossly out of proportion to the situation in intensity or duration.”

Some symptoms of DMDD can span multiple disorders such as the close constituents of bi-polar disorder (BP) and oppositional defiant disor­der (ODD). Distinguishing the difference is important and complex at the same time.

Many children have slipped through the cracks of effective treatment because of misdiagnosis and in the United States, there has been an alarming increase in bi-polar diagnoses that, based on further evaluations, were inappropriate, and vice versa.


Effective treatment relies on the proper diagnosis based on symptoms, their levels of severity, durations, frequencies, and specific conditions. While some symptoms may overlap and some are distinct, multilevel assessments and multidimensional approaches to treatment are necessary. The most common types of treatment include psychotherapy and medications.

Types of Treatment for Mood Dysregulation Disorder


treatment for mental health issues in kids

There are different therapies that can help children with DMDD.

Psychotherapies focus on managing symptoms and addressing underlying psychological issues. Various therapies may be:

  • Family therapy involves family members and focuses on enhancing communications, coping, and problem-solving.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the patient recognize and adjust distorted thinking and behaviors while learning skills to cope with their illness.
  • Interpersonal therapy helps to stabilize routines and solve relationship problems.
  • Self regulation therapy teaches skills to regulate purposeful control of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
  • Individual counseling therapies can help with anxiety or depression management, assertiveness training, stress reduction, and impulse control strategies.
  • Group therapy plays a major supporting role in helping the patient to heal through interactions with others undergoing similar experiences.
  • Religious or spiritual support can be a primary and protective benefit for those who have those inclinations.


Many children also have co-occurring disorders of depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or conduct disorder which changes the treatment modalities when it comes to medications prescribed.

For DMDD, α-2A agonists medication such as clonidine may be used, although atypical antipsychotic medications are often the first line treatment for aggression. Certain co-existing disorders may require the use of mood stabilizers, antidepressants, stimulants, or combinations of medications based on the patients conditions.

Life Style Interventions

Education and promotion of sleep, nutrition, and exercise are necessary interventions that contribute to stabilization and positive healing for the patient as well as those who care for them.


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