Conduct Disorder is behavioral and emotional problems in children and adolescents. Young people with this disorder have extreme difficulty to follow the rules and regulations and also have great difficulty in behaving acceptable way in society. People with conduct disorder are sometimes seen as ”delinquent” and ”bad” within their community. Understanding that conduct disorder has its official diagnostic code in DSM 5, The Official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5, may change the way people see this misunderstood mental disorder.
Symptoms of Conduct Disorder: Children and young adults with conduct disorder may show some of these following symptoms:
Aggression to others and especially animals
For example, bullying, threating or intimating others. In some cases, older adolescence may use weapons that can cause some serious harm to others. These young adults are usually physically cruel to others. In more cases, they steal from their victims, and in some cases, they use force for sexual gains.
For example, engaging in arson with the intention of causing damage. These young people deliberately engage in a destructive activity, especially to other’s property.
Deceitful Behavior, Lying, Stealing
For example, lying to avoid responsibilities, gain goods or favors. Young people with conduct disorder may also do shoplifting or breaking and entering.
Violation of Rules
For example, sneaking out of the house at night despite the curfew, or running away from home and being truant from school.
Children and young adults who exhibit these kind of behaviors need to go through an evaluation by a mental health professional. Many of these people may also have mood disorders, anxiety, learning problems, ADHD, etc.
Children with conduct disorder may be at risk of further problems in life, such as low grades, dropping out of school, developing mental problems, especially antisocial personality disorder. Intervention may help to reduce the risk of incarceration and the possibility of these psychological problems and also substance abuse usage.
A combination of biological, psychological, genetic, social and environmental factors each play a role in conduct disorder. An injury to the brain, or undeveloped parts of the brain that causes ADHD, can also play biological causes to conduct disorder. Most children with conduct disorder have family members with mental illnesses, but environment also plays an active role. A dysfunctional family, abuse, trauma may contribute to the conduct disorder.
Treatment of children with conduct disorder is complex and challenging. The complexity is usually because of the child’s uncooperative behavior and also their distrust of adults. In some cases, challenging difficulties may be because of the child’s age and intellectual development.
Although no medicine is used with conduct disorder, there might be some medicine helpful to fix other ongoing problems like anxiety or depression.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is useful helping children learn how to express their inner selves and their anger. With this therapy, children can learn to improve their thinking, problem solving, anger management and impulse control. Sometimes family therapy can help family relations get stronger and also to build communication amongst family members. Parent management training teaches parents how to alter their children’s behavior at home.
Disclaimer: The comments and suggestions in this article are intended to be helpful in developing a treatment plan with the guidance of a physician. Please consult a medical doctor about which options would be best for you. Do not take any supplements or medicine without discussing the effects with your physician. The author is not responsible for any affects or the effectiveness of these treatments.
Elif Angel Raynor, MS., MIBA.
Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern