Signs Of Conduct Disorder To Look Out For

Conduct disorder is a mental health disorder that affects children and adolescents. Cases of conduct disorder are more prevalent in boys than in girls. It is an illness that affects millions of youth globally. Symptoms of conduct disorder also coincide with other personality disorders, such as mood disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and antisocial personality disorder. In fact, it is believed conduct disorder is a precursor to antisocial personality disorder. There are three types of conduct disorder: childhood, adolescent, and unspecified onset. Individuals who have conduct disorder experience a range of symptoms, with persistence in each. 

Destructive Behavior


Behavior defined as destructive is when an individual commits acts that are harmful to other humans or animals. Individuals with conduct disorder may feel the need to ruin property and objects as well. Arson and vandalism are not uncommon acts of destruction. There are several reasons why there is a dominant link between conduct disorder and the need to engage in destructive behavior. 

One reason is individuals with conduct disorder have a lower level of activity in the orbital frontal area of their brain. This decreased activity in the specified part of the brain contributes to the reason why these youth with conduct disorder make poor decisions. The habitual tendency to wreck their surroundings is a huge indicator of making such choices.

Deceitful Behavior


Individuals suffering from conduct disorder will often lie for personal gain. They will commit dishonest acts, like stealing from others or shoplifting. Behavior, like lying and stealing, is not only harmful to the individual with conduct disorder but also to those around them. Often, deceitful behavior significantly impacts the loved ones of individuals with conduct disorder. If left untreated, the behavior or deceitfulness can escalate into something more serious in the future. This type of deceitful behavior can lead to very severe crimes, such as breaking into homes and robbing banks.

Constant Rule Violation


Symptoms of rule-breaking can start at a young age for those with conduct disorder. Examples of this type of behavior include skipping school, running away from home, and staying out all night. This type of behavior falls out of the realms of what is socially acceptable. The reason why the need to constantly break occurs in individuals with conduct disorder is due to a neurochemical imbalance in their brain. Those with conduct disorder have low levels of serotonin and cortisol. These types of neurons are responsible for impulse control, regulation of mood, and feelings of fear and anxiety. If the individual has a deficit of these neurons, they are likely to engage in a rebellious behavior because they believe it is acceptable to violate rules and regulations.

Aggressive Behavior


Behavior that involves hurting humans or other living things, like pets and wildlife, is considered cruel and violent. Individuals with conduct disorder have the tendency to pick fights with others and bully other individuals into getting what they want. Aggression in patients with conduct disorder can stem from environmental factors. This behavior is often learned and conditioned. If the living conditions are poor and filled with violence, then the patient with conduct disorder will be exposed to these tendencies and start to unconsciously adopt them into their daily habits. 

Their interaction with other individuals will be confrontational, unpleasant, and even frightening. Also, conduct disorder patients have drastically reduced automatic nervous system functioning, and therefore have a harder time regulating their moods. They are unable to comprehend the idea of exercising self-control and cool off their anger in a constructive manner. They react physically and impulsively to cope with the intense emotions brewing in them.

Persistence In All Symptoms


If the above symptoms persist and worsen over time, then it is likely the individual is inflicted with conduct disorder. Early onset of conduct disorder occurs in children ten years old and younger. Adolescent-onset occurs in individuals older than ten, but younger than eighteen.

It should be noted children misbehaving from time to time is natural, but when several of the symptoms related to conduct disorder last longer than three to twelve months, there is cause for concern. Since the symptoms of conduct disorder fall under several other behavioral and personality disorders, it is tricky to diagnose. Persistence and exacerbation of negative behaviors is the number one factor of determining if the individual has conduct disorder.


    HealthPrep Staff