Objective: The authors sought to replicate open-label findings showing that specific criteria for explosive temper and mood lability identify disruptive youth who improve while receiving the anticonvulsant divalproex sodium.
Method: Twenty outpatient children and adolescents (ages 10-18) with a disruptive behavior disorder (oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder) met the specific criteria for explosive temper and mood lability. They received 6 weeks of divalproex treatment and 6 weeks of placebo by random assignment. Independent evaluators blind to group assignment assessed response at the end of each phase.
Results: At the end of phase 1, eight of 10 subjects had responded to divalproex; zero of 10 had responded to placebo. Of the 15 subjects who completed both phases, 12 has superior response taking divalproex.
Conclusions: This preliminary study replicates open-label findings showing that divalproex is an efficacious treatment for explosive temper and mood lability in disruptive children and adolescents.