Dr. Daniel Matthews
Pioneer in DMDD Treatment
Revolutionize DMDD would like to acknowledge Dr. Daniel Matthews, a respected pediatric neuropsychiatrist, for his pioneering work in effectively treating childhood limbic rage syndrome. This syndrome is now known as Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD), as named by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in 2013, although it has had many labels over time.
Before his retirement in 2020, Dr. Matthews dedicated over four decades to working with a population of children and teenagers who experienced severe explosive rage and impulsive aggression. Many of these individuals were placed in residential treatment homes, as achieving stability seemed nearly impossible. This disorder caused tumult within their families. Dissatisfied with the limited effectiveness of various medications, especially antipsychotic drugs, Dr. Matthews sought to uncover the root cause in order to find a solution. Through accurate diagnosis, he successfully treated the electrical abnormalities present in these children, which manifested as seizure-like activity in the brain.
During the 1970s, Dr. Matthews made a groundbreaking discovery while working with impulsive, explosive, and pathological juveniles residing in an inpatient facility. A type of EEG called qEEG (quantitative electroencephalogram) provides brain wave activity during a rage episode when conducted appropriately using audible and visual stimulation. A robust norm group database was created with the help of Harvard University and funded by Duke University, which testing was then compared to. That database is still used today all over the country, most frequently in universities for research and education. The results provided insight into what was happening during those episodes, why it differed from other behavioral disorders, including seizure disorders, and how to effectively treat the root cause, eliminating the need to undergo a multitude of ineffective medication trials on young children. He identified an electrical abnormality in the brains of these children, who often had no recollection of their rage episodes.
Dr. Matthews' findings revolutionized the treatment of DMDD by addressing the root cause of the brain abnormality using anti-epileptic medications alongside amantadine instead of antipsychotics. Children with DMDD require increased dopamine levels in the brain, whereas antipsychotics reduce dopamine access and conflict with the goal of stabilizing the brain. Over time, patients following this brain-based treatment often require less medication as their new brain cells begin to resemble calm, functioning cells. Based on decades of research, this treatment had a consistent success rate of 85-90%.
Following his discovery, Dr. Matthews had been at the forefront of this successful treatment, providing consultation to doctors nationally and internationally to help stabilize DMDD patients, many of whom also have ADHD and/or other overlapping disorders, and prevent future hospitalization. For more than twenty years, Dr. Matthews partnered with the late neuropsychologist, Larry Fisher, Ph.D., ABPN, to develop a unique plan that not only prevented hospitalization but also reintegrated these children into their families, schools, and society. Together, they combined their expert knowledge of medications and proven effective tactics for the behavior displayed and made it their mission to change as many lives as possible.
Since then, Dr. Matthews' research and treatment methods have positively impacted the lives of numerous families. His insights into aggressive and violent children and adolescents have been shared at major psychiatry and psychology conferences throughout the country, as well as through educational workshops for medical providers nationwide. His work has also been recognized and published in leading psychiatric journals, such as The Psychiatric News in 2018.
To learn more about Dr. Matthews' brain-based treatment, please view the presentation he delivered at a medical conference prior to his retirement by clicking the link below and waiting for the presentation to begin.