Background: Sudden, explosive episodes of rage occur in a significant number of clinically referred children with Tourette's disorder and cause considerable psychosocial morbidity. The etiology of these symptoms is unknown. We conducted a pilot study of 12 consecutive children with Tourette's disorder and rage attacks to determine whether comorbidity of Tourette's-associated disorders is related to these symptoms.
Method: Twelve consecutive children with Tourette's disorder who presented with rage attacks were evaluated, including 2 females and 10 males. Tourette's disorder diagnosis, presence of comorbid disorders, and tic severity were assessed using DSM-IV diagnostic criteria and standardized rating scales.
Results: All 12 children met diagnostic criteria for Tourette's disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Two children were also diagnosed with comorbid oppositional defiant disorder, and 4 children were diagnosed with comorbid conduct disorder. None of the subjects met diagnostic criteria for a mood disorder. All subjects had only mild tic severity.
Conclusion: The clinical phenomenon of rage attacks in children with Tourette's disorder resembles intermittent explosive disorder and may reflect specific underlying neurologic disturbances. This pilot study suggests that rage attacks in Tourette's disorder may be related to the presence of comorbid disorders.