Disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders refer to a group of mental health conditions that cause individuals to behave aggressively toward people and property. Individuals diagnosed with these conditions are often unable to control their emotions, behaviors, or follow social rules and laws.
Unlike other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety which can be directed inwards toward the individual, disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders cause an individual to project their energy outwards and directly to others. Individuals may report feeling increased tension that is temporarily relieved by their compulsive actions. These aggressive or disruptive behaviors can be extreme and occur in various situations with significant consequences.
Disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders tend to manifest in childhood and adolescence. Though there may be no direct common cause among patients, individuals diagnosed with these disorders often share some of the following risk factors:
- Family history of addiction or complications with law enforcement
- Harsh parenting or family settings
- Physical, emotional, mental, or sexual abuse
It is estimated that over 2% of adults within the United States are diagnosed every year with a type of disruptive impulse control and conduct disorder. Common subtypes associated with disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders may include conduct disorders, intermittent explosive disorders, kleptomania, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and pyromania.
Disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders may also co-occur with other mental health conditions such as mood or anxiety disorders.
As mentioned above, disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders refer to a group of disorders as such symptoms may vary depending on the condition and individual. However, common symptoms may include:
- Compulsive lying
- Defiant or argumentative
- Frequent episodes of irritability and aggression
- Increased agitation
- Isolation from friends and family
- Participating in risky behaviors
- Physical aggression
Disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders can be easily dismissed early on as stubbornness. However, the angry, aggressive, or disruptive behaviors are often extreme, occur frequently in various situations and settings often causing a significant impact on the individual’s daily ability to function in school, work, and social relationships.
Disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders generally manifest in childhood and early adolescence, as such early treatment is ideal to prevent problems from continuing into adulthood.
Treatment generally involves a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness practices. The goal of treatment is to refocus behaviors, thoughts, and feelings and learning to become more aware of triggers. Therapy may also involve skill training to help patients learn how to interact with others in more appropriate and positive manners. Therapy can be accomplished as individual, group, or family sessions.
For children, treatment will also involve parents and family training to help family members respond appropriately and understand how best to help their children grow in a positive direction.
Medication is typically not used to treat disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders directly but may be used for conductions that co-occur such as ADHD or depression.
For more information on disruptive impulse control and conduct disorders or to schedule an appointment, contact our office today.