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Conduct disorder: causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatments


Conduct disorder is a fairly serious type of emotional and behavioral disorder . Those with this disorder present behavioral alterations and show a disrupted, anxious  and aggressive pattern of behavior  . Conduct disorders affect concentration and the subject’s ability to control their emotions and impulses.

This Disorder can occur in children and adolescents, and remain into adulthood. It is normal for children and adolescents to have problems related to behavior in the course of their development, but when this behavior goes against accepted norms, is long-lasting and violates the rights of others , we can deduce that we are facing a conduct disorder. This disorder involves a series of problematic behaviors, including: negative and defiant behaviors, antisocial activities such as violence, and sexually coercive behaviors.

This type of disorder is generally confused and compared with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder , but it should be noted that although they present similar symptoms, they are two different types of disorders.

Causes of conduct disorder

Many factors can contribute to a child or adolescent developing conduct disorder. The specific causes that generate this disorder are still unknown, but it is estimated that it may be caused by a combination of bio-psychosocial factors.

Some studies have shown that one of the risk factors that can cause this psychopathology is brain injury . It has been proven that these lesions in certain areas of the brain can cause different types of disorders, including conduct disorder. It has also been shown that women with conduct disorder – compared to those without conduct disorder – have altered brain function, similar to that of men, who tend to have greater aggression and conduct disorder.

Another of the biological factors that can contribute to this disease is genetics , since it has been proven that if any of the parents or close relatives suffer from this type of disorder, they are more prone to contracting it.

Regarding psychological and social factors , it has been seen that moral conscience problems and not being accepted by peers or family members are risk factors for the development of conduct disorder

Symptoms of conduct disorder

Diagnosis of conduct disorder

If symptoms related to a conduct disorder are found, the specialist may begin an evaluation that will be divided into several stages:

  • First, the specialist will review the patient’s medical and psychiatric records.
  • Then you will be asked for a physical exam and laboratory tests to rule out any physical pathology that is causing the symptoms.
  • If laboratory tests and physical examination show that there is no physical illness related to the patient’s symptoms, the specialist will refer the patient to a mental health specialist.
  • The mental health specialist will begin to look for psychological disorders related to the symptoms that the patient presents. You will use specially designed interview and assessment tools to assess children or adults with mental disorders.

In case the patient is a child, the psychotherapist or psychiatrist, in addition to interviewing and evaluating the child, will interview and evaluate their family and, if necessary, people from their close environment, such as: teachers, friends, schoolmates, etc. .

Treatment for conduct disorder

Conduct disorder is a difficult disorder to overcome, but with the proper procedure and the will of the patient, a successful outcome can be achieved. If a child or adolescent with conduct disorder is not treated in time, they run the risk of developing other types of mental disorders as an adult.

One of the most used treatments for this disorder is psychotherapy and behavioral therapy . These have a long procedure, and the sooner the disorder is diagnosed, the greater the effectiveness of the therapy.For either of the two therapies, the support of family, friends, teachers or any close link that can contribute to the recovery of the patient is necessary. .

Cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy are generally used to help children express their emotions and provide the necessary tools for them to learn to control anger appropriately.

Sometimes conduct disorder is diagnosed along with a number of other conditions that can be treated pharmacologically ; in these cases, and if the therapist deems it necessary, medication may be included in the treatment plans for this disorder.

Youth and children with conduct disorder can have ongoing problems if they and their families do not receive early and comprehensive treatment. These problems can range from not adapting to the demands of adulthood to continuing to have problems with interpersonal relationships, breaking the rules, and having difficulty getting a job due to antisocial and inappropriate behavior.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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