Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder Symptoms and Association with Oppositional Defiant and Other Disorders in a General Population Child Sample

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2016 Mar;26(2):101-6. doi: 10.1089/cap.2015.0074. Epub 2016 Jan 8.


Objective: The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. (DSM-5) diagnosis, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD), has generated appreciable controversy since its inception, primarily in regard to its validity as a distinct disorder from oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). The goal of our study was to determine if the two DSM-5 DMDD symptoms (persistently irritable or angry mood and severe recurrent temper outbursts) occurred independently of other disorders, particularly ODD. Other DSM-5 DMDD criteria were not assessed.

Methods: Maternal ratings of the two DMDD symptoms, clinical diagnosis of ODD using DSM-5 symptom criteria, and psychological problem scores (anxiety, depression, oppositional behavior, conduct disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]) on the Pediatric Behavior Scale were analyzed in a population sample, 6-12 years of age (n = 665).

Results: The prevalence of DMDD symptoms (irritable-angry mood and temper outbursts both rated by mothers as often or very often a problem) was 9%. In all, 92% of children with DMDD symptoms had ODD, and 66% of children with ODD had DMDD symptoms, indicating that it is very unlikely to have DMDD symptoms without ODD, but that ODD can occur without DMDD symptoms. Comorbid psychological problems (anxiety, depression, conduct disorder, and ADHD) in addition to ODD did not increase the risk of having DMDD symptoms beyond that for ODD alone. Only 3% of children with psychological problems other than ODD had DMDD symptoms.

Conclusions: Our general population findings are similar to those for a psychiatric sample, suggesting that DMDD cannot be differentiated from ODD based on symptomatology. Therefore, it is important to assess all DSM criteria and to examine for comorbid psychopathology when considering a diagnosis of DMDD. Our results support the recommendation made by the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases, 11th Revision (ICD-11) panel of experts that DMDD symptoms may be more appropriately classified as an ODD specifier than a separate diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Conduct Disorder / epidemiology
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Mood*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / physiopathology
  • Mood Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mood Disorders / physiopathology
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales