Novel treatment helps children with severe irritability

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JANS – A persistent state of anger or annoyance coupled with frequent and intense temper outbursts in children and adolescents often signals clinically impairing irritability. Clinical irritability disrupts a child’s daily life and can continue to cause problems into adulthood. 

Although irritability is one of the leading reasons children are seen for psychiatric care, it is understudied compared to other childhood disorders. Critically, evidence-based treatments for clinical irritability are also lacking.

In a new study, researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) successfully used exposure-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat severe irritability in children. This promising breakthrough underscores the importance of tailored interventions in this area of child psychiatry.

Forty children (8–17 years) participated in the study that focused on increasing tolerance to frustration. Clinicians carefully exposed children to anger-provoking situations, gradually moving up a hierarchy specific to that child. Examples could be taking away a preferred item (for example, stopping a video game or getting off the iPad) or starting a disagreeable activity (for example, brushing teeth or doing homework). Clinicians worked with the child to learn to tolerate and constructively respond to their feelings without a temper outburst.

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Novel treatment helps children with severe irritability

By Jackson Advocate News Service
April 29, 2024