By: Leah Flanzman
Conduct disorder is a behavioral disorder seen in children who display behaviors that deviate from societal norms and violate a number of social rules. Conduct disorder will typically present itself before the age of 16, and can have both genetic and environmental influences. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM IV-TR), this disorder is being increasingly diagnosed in more and more children throughout the United States. In the past few years, prevalence rates of children exhibiting symptoms of conduct disorder skyrocketed to as high as 10%.
Conduct disorder is typically divided into two types, childhood onset and adolescent onset, which are distinguished from one another by the age at which symptoms begin appearing. Childhood onset conduct disorder is diagnosed before 10 years of age, and adolescent onset is diagnosed if the symptoms arise after 10 years of age. Childhood onset is believed to be the more serious condition between the two and more resistant to treatment
The symptoms of conduct disorder can be broken down into four main categories. A child or adolescent is likely to have conduct disorder if they consistently display aggressive conduct, deceitful behavior, destructive behavior, or a violation of rules. Examples of aggressive conduct can include intimidating or bullying other children, physically harming people or animals with malicious intentions, or using a weapon. Deceitful behavior can be seen through lying, stealing, or breaking and entering. Individuals will display destructive behaviors by intentionally destroying or vandalizing properties, and individuals will violate rules by skipping school, running away, or prematurely abusing drugs and alcohol.
A distinction lies in how the symptoms of conduct disorder are manifested between the genders, as it is more frequently diagnosed in boys. Boys are more likely to fight, steal, vandalize school property, and break school rules, whereas girls are more likely to lie, run away from home, use drugs, and engage in early sexual activity. Conduct disorder is unique in the fact that it is not always recognized as a mental illness, so treatment is commonly neglected. Early intervention for Conduct Disorder yields the greatest possibility for an improved long-term outcome so if symptoms begin to arise, seeking help immediately can be extremely beneficial.
If you or a person you know is struggling with conduct disorder, it may be beneficial to have them contact a mental health professional and receive therapy for their illnesses. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help. Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920. Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.