Irritability and Mood

  • Irritability is defined as a feeling of agitation and excessive response to stimuli.
  • Irritability is a symptom that presents itself in many different disorders, including Anxiety, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Depression, and Severe Mood Dysregulation.

Irritability has received much attention in recent years from academia and public media (LA Times). Practicing clinicians frequently discuss the difficulty in treating children who experience significant irritability and parents report struggling with their child’s difficult behavior and the effect on family well-being. 

Chronic irritability often affects children with anxiety, depression, ODD, and severe mood dysregulation. Irritability is a symptom of approximately 61% of children with depression, and is associated with greater risk of concurrent disruptive behaviors (including oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder) (Stringaris et al., 2013).  Moreover, approximately 50% of adults with major depressive disorder experience significant irritability that is associated with greater depressive severity, longer major depressive episodes, and poorer impulse control among other negative long-term outcomes (Judd et al., 2013). The consequences of severe irritability are also not limited to depression. Irritability in oppositional defiant disorder in childhood is also associated with more negative long-term outcomes.

As a clinical research group, we aim to explore treatment options for children with irritability and comorbid conditions. Currently, we are conducting a clinical trial to treat severe mood dysregulation in children and adolescents.