Understanding Options for Support
Please note that DMDD does not have a standardized treatment protocol. It is crucial to seek professional help to develop an individualized treatment plan tailored to your child’s specific needs.
DMDD treatment often involves a multi-faceted approach, including medication. While there is no single prescription for DMDD, psychiatrists may recommend a combination of medications to address concurrent diagnoses like anxiety, depression, or ADHD. It is important to work closely with your doctor to find the right medication or combination of medications that yield the best results for your child. Patience and persistence are key as it may take time to find the optimal solution. Medications commonly used in DMDD treatment include:
These medications are frequently prescribed to manage ADHD symptoms and may also help reduce irritability in children with DMDD. Close monitoring of heart rate and blood pressure is essential for individuals on stimulant medications, especially those with pre-existing heart conditions.
Antidepressant medications may be used to address irritability and mood problems associated with DMDD. However, they carry a risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, particularly in children and teens. Close monitoring is crucial, especially during the initial stages of medication use.
In severe cases of DMDD characterized by intense temper outbursts involving physical aggression, atypical antipsychotic medications such as risperidone and aripiprazole may be prescribed. These medications come with significant side effects and should be carefully monitored.
Psychotherapy, particularly Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), plays a vital role in holistic DMDD treatment. CBT helps children and teens learn effective coping strategies, regulate their moods, and manage irritability. Therapists, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatric nurses, offer psychotherapy. Finding a therapist experienced in pediatric mood disorders is recommended.
Support at Home
Parents and caregivers are essential in managing the behavioral symptoms of DMDD. Learning effective ways to interact with your child and reduce aggression is crucial. Parent training programs can teach strategies to anticipate and prevent temper outbursts, promote consistency, reward positive behavior, and create a more predictable and nurturing environment.
Support at School
Children with DMDD may encounter academic or behavioral challenges at school. It is vital to establish open communication with teachers and administrators to ensure your child receives the necessary support. Sharing information about DMDD and its specific impact on your child’s behavior can foster understanding. If needed, you may consider implementing a 504 Plan or an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to provide accommodations or specialized education services to facilitate your child’s success in the classroom.
504 Plan vs. IEP: Understand the Difference
A 504 Plan and an IEP are options for supporting children with disabilities in education. However, an IEP may additionally provide specialized education services outside the classroom to address their unique needs.
Click to learn more about the 504 Plan vs. IEP difference.
Click for examples of accommodations for DMDD.
Books and websites can provide valuable insights and guidance for managing DMDD and supporting your child’s well-being. Some recommended resources include:
- Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges by Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
- Parent Management Training: Treatment for Oppositional, Aggressive, and Antisocial Behavior in Children and Adolescents by Alan E. Kazdin
- Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Help Your Child Regulate Emotional Outbursts and Aggressive Behaviors by Pat Harvey
- Poppy and the Overactive Amygdala by Holly Provan
- Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life by Dr. Stuart Shanker
- Transforming the Difficult Child by Howard Glasser
- The Explosive Child by Dr. Ross Greene PhD
- Livesinthebalance.org Lives in the Balance is a non-profit organization founded by child psychologist Dr. Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child. The mission of Lives in the Balance is to provide vital, accessible resources and programs to caregivers of behaviorally challenging kids.
- The Mehrit Centre was founded by Dr. Stuart Shanker, author of Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life. The mission of The Mehrit Centre is to mobilize science-based and practice-informed knowledge about self-regulation to develop learning experiences, strategies, and resources that will benefit all children, parents, and teachers.