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Anger Attacks in Patients With Depression

Maurizio Fava, MD, and Jerrold F. Rosenbaum, MD

Published: June 1, 1999

Article Abstract

Anger attacks are sudden intense spells of anger that resemble panic attacks but lack the predominant affects of fear and anxiety associated with panic attacks. They typically occur in situations in which an individual feels emotionally trapped and experiences outbursts of anger that are later described by the patient as being uncharacteristic and inappropriate to the situation at hand. Anger attacks consist of both behavioral and autonomic features, and various criteria and an Anger Attacks Questionnaire have been designed to identify the presence of these attacks. The prevalence of anger attacks in depressed patients is approximately 30% to 40%, and the attacks have disappeared in 53% to 71% of depressed patients treated with fluoxetine, sertraline, or imipramine. This article discusses the development of the concept of anger attacks, the presence of anger attacks in depression and other psychiatric disorders, and the current treatment of anger attacks.

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