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Rage Attacks in Children and Adolescents With Tourette's Disorder: A Pilot Study

J Clin Psychiatry 1998;59(11):576-580

Background: Sudden, explosive episodes of rage occur in a significant number of clinically referred children with Tourette's disorder and cause considerable psychosocial morbidity. The etiology of these symptoms is unknown. We conducted a pilot study of 12 consec-utive children with Tourette's disorder and rage attacks to determine whether comorbidity of Tourette's-associated disorders is related to these symptoms.

Method: Twelve consecutive children with Tourette's disorder who presented with rage attacks were evaluated, including 2 females and 10 males. Tourette's disorder diagnosis, presence of comorbid disorders, and tic severity were assessed using DSM-IV diagnostic criteria and standardized rating scales.

Results: All 12 children met diagnostic criteria for Tourette's disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Two children were also diagnosed with comorbid oppositional defiant disorder, and 4 children were diagnosed with comorbid conduct disorder. None of the subjects met diagnostic criteria for a mood disorder. All subjects had only mild tic severity.

Conclusion: The clinical phenomenon of rage attacks in children with Tourette's disorder resembles intermittent explosive disorder and may reflect specific underlying neurologic distu-bances. This pilot study suggests that rage attacks in Tourette's disorder may be related to the presence of comorbid disorders.