Individuals with the psychiatric condition known as explosive disorder–repeated episodes of aggressive, impulsive, violent behavior–may have elevated blood proteins that are indicative to the disease. According to research published in in JAMA Psychiatry, the elevated proteins suggest body-wide inflammation and suggest the use of anti-inflammatory medications could be effective in combating explosive disorder.
“What we show is that inflammation markers [proteins] are up in these aggressive individuals,” Dr. Emil Coccaro, professor and chair of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago, said to HealthDay News. “The levels of chronic inflammation are about twice as great in [intermittent explosive disorder] compared with healthy subjects.”
In the research, experts examined levels of two types of indicators of inflammation in blood: C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. Previous research has linked elevated levels of these proteins with aggressive and impulsive behaviors in people and animals. Out of the 200 participants, 69 had intermittent explosive disorder, 61 had psychiatric disorders not involving aggression and 67 were in good mental health.
In those with explosive disorder, the protein markers examined were more than double compared to other test subjects.
The findings are considered significant for the more than 16 million people who suffer from explosive disorder in the United States. Of those, only 50 percent see any success on disease management medications. Coccaro and his team hope adding anti-inflammatory prescriptions could make the difference for those who are unable to currently control their disease.
This would be life-changing for millions as the Mayo Clinic indicates explosive disorder cause manifest as self-harm as individuals with this condition do not always direct their aggressive thoughts on others. Not only do people with explosive disorder sometimes have suicidal tendencies and substance abuse issues, they also at work and at home with maintaining relationships.
The next step in the process is determining if inflammation causes explosive disorder or the other way around.
“It’s not possible to say whether the inflammation is contributing to the aggression or whether the aggression is contributing to the inflammation,” Mark Dombeck, a psychologist in Oakland, California, said. “Behavior is certainly influenced by biology, but it’s influenced by a lot more than that.”
Currently, explosive disorder is treated with psychotherapy and a combination of:
- Antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and others.
- Anticonvulsants, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), phenytoin (Dilantin), topiramate (Topamax) and lamotrigine (Lamictal).
- Anti-anxiety agents in the benzodiazepine family, such as lorazepam (Ativan) and clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Mood stabilizers, such as lithium (Lithobid).