Teenagers are often characterized as over-emotional, prone to outbursts that confuse their parents and leave teachers reeling.
But a study published in the July issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry says 1 in 12 adolescents may in fact be suffering from a real and severe anger problem known as intermittent explosive disorder (IED).
Study author Katie McLaughlin, a clinical psychologist and psychiatric epidemiologist, says IED is one of the most widespread mental health disorders - and one of the least studied.
"There's a contrast between how common the disorder is and how much we know about it," she said.
IED is characterized by recurrent episodes of aggression that involve violence, a threat of violence and/or destruction of property, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It often begins around the age of 12, but scientists don't know whether it continues into adulthood. (A similar study which focused on adults found 7.2% met the criteria for IED).