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Angry outbursts caused by intermittent explosive disorder are associated with higher levels of inflammation, a U.S. research team found.
Aspirin could help people with rage issues chill out, a new study suggests.
Scientists from the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado have found evidence linking angry outbursts caused by the psychiatric condition intermittent explosive disorder to inflammation in the body.
The researchers now want to see if taking anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin could help calm the condition.
People with intermittent explosive disorder experience recurrent bursts of rage or even violence, which could be directed at those around them. Road rage and incidents of domestic violence are thought to be examples of how the disorder can play out.
For the study, which was published Thursday in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers tested the blood plasma of 197 people for two biomarkers of inflammation, C-reactive protein and interleukin 6. About one-third of participants had been diagnosed with IED, another third with a non-aggressive psychiatric disorder, and a third with no psychiatric issues.
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If rage and inflammation are linked, it’s possible that taking anti-inflammatory drugs could help control the condition, the study’s lead author said.
Plasma levels of both biomarkers were “significantly higher” in people with intermittent explosive disorder when compared with people with other psychiatric disorders or people without a disorder. People who had higher levels of inflammation tended to be more aggressive with a longer history of rage episodes.
Researchers aren’t sure whether inflammation leads to IED or if it’s the other way around, but the two do appear to be linked, lead study author Dr. Emil Coccaro said.
“These two markers consistently correlate with aggression and impulsivity but not with other psychiatric problems,” wrote Coccaro, of the University of Chicago’s clinical neuroscience research department, in a release. “We don’t yet know if the inflammation triggers aggression or aggressive feelings set off inflammation, but it’s a powerful indication that the two are connected, and a damaging combination.”
These violent outbursts have “strong genetic and biomedical underpinnings,” causing people with IED to overreact to stressful situations, often by lashing out at family members, friends and colleagues, Coccaro said.
He added that medications that reduce inflammation “may also drive down aggression.”
That aspirin could help mitigate the condition is just a theory at this time, Coccaro cautioned. People who experience regular hostile outbursts should seek the care of a mental health professional.