Impulse Control Disorders

A person with an impulse control disorder frequently struggles to control the sudden, strong want to do something that might be against social norms or someone else's rights. These impulsive actions may be taken rapidly, repeatedly, and without giving thought to the consequences. Two well-known examples of impulsive disorders are pyromania (deliberately igniting flames) and kleptomania (the drive to steal). A few examples include oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, trichotillomania, and intermittent explosive disorder.may often cause social and financial difficulties.

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Know More About Impulse Control Disorders

Facts about impulse control disorder

  • Individuals with kleptomania (types of impulse control disorder) are more likely to suffer from Obsessive-compulsive disorder than the general population.
  • Impulse control disorders typically begin in adolescence or in childhood.
  • Impulse control and performance disorders also co-occur with a variety of other mental health problems.
  • About 10.5 per cent of the general population is reported to have an impulse control disorder, according to statistics from the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).
  • Males may be significantly more susceptible than females to impulse control disorders

Causes of impulse control disorder

  • Children and adolescents with family members who are dealing with illnesses and mood disorders are more likely to develop symptoms of impulse control disorders.
  • There is a high risk that when particular brain structures related to emotional processing, planning and memory become imbalanced, there could be signs of impulse control behaviours.
  • Environmental factors can play a significant role in the occurrence of behaviour patterns that are symptomatic of impulse control disorders.
  • Hormones linked to violence and aggression, such as testosterone, may play a role in the development of this disorder.

Symptoms of impulse control disorder

  • Stealing
  • Compulsive lying
  • Acting out aggressively
  • Inability to control impulses
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Therapy used in impulse control disorder counselling

  • Cognitive therapy examines the way people’s thoughts about themselves, others, and the world affects their mental health.
  • Practising meditation can help one to recognize what might be an unproductive state of mind, so you can pause before you act.
  • Psycho educating family will allow you and your loved ones to understand impulse control disorder in a better way. It will also help both of you find ways to minimise this behaviour.
  • Family counselling can help people recover and heal. It will encourage all family members to bring about realistic, substantive improvements as individual recovery progresses.

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Here are some warning signs and symptoms that, in some people, could indicate an impulse control condition. Although it is not always simple to spot this kind of disease, the following may warrant attention.

Behavioral signs: Starting fires, stealing, lying, acting recklessly or promiscuously, acting volatile or aggressively

Cognitive signs: Poor focus, executive dysfunction, organizational difficulties, and obsessive behavior

Behavioral and emotional signs: Low self-esteem, social withdrawal or isolation, detachment and/or anxiety, abrupt changes in thoughts and emotions, and feelings of guilt or remorse are some of the symptoms.


An impulsive action typically happens after stress has grown to a point where the person is unable to control it. However, the immediate relief that comes from acting on an impulsive conduct is fleeting.

Sometimes feelings of remorse or humiliation come next. Repeated impulsive behavior can have a variety of negative effects over time, including increased emotional pain or regret.


The term 'impulse control disorder' refers to a group of psychological issues that includes:

Pyromania: People with pyromania intentionally create fires without thinking about the damage or harm that may result from their activities.

Kleptomania: The compulsive impulse to steal is known as kleptomania. Kleptomania is rare in that those who struggle with it frequently take items with little sentimental or monetary worth. When a person has repeatedly acted on aggressive urges and performed seriously aggressive acts, such as assault or property destruction, a diagnosis of intermittent explosive disorder is made.

Trichotillomania: This condition causes an obsessional need to pull off one's own hair. Children and teenagers are particularly prone to this impulsive conduct.

Behavior Disorder- A pattern of behavior known as conduct disorder includes major rule infractions, property destruction, stealing, and aggressive behavior against people and animals.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder- Oppositional defiant disorder is diagnosed in children and adolescents, same like conduct disorder is. Having an unpleasant mood, being argumentative or stubborn, and acting vindictively are some of its symptoms.


Strategies can be used by parents and other caregivers to control the symptoms of impulse control problems. These consist of dependable source:

  • Avoiding rewarding behaviors associated with impulse control disorders
  • Encouraging young people to get involved in their neighborhood and society while refraining from using physical punishment and maintaining consistency in parenting
  • These techniques can be assisted by a variety of therapy kinds, including parent management training, multisystemic therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • To treat symptoms, certain medical professionals may recommend mood stabilizers, antidepressants, or other drugs.


Prevention is uncertain because hereditary and environmental factors may both contribute to impulse control issues.

However, by bringing a child or adolescent with a suspected impulse control disorder to a healthcare provider, parents and caregivers can prevent symptoms from getting worse. A course of treatment will be suggested by doctors.

Best Psychologists For Impulse Control Disorders

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Frequently Asked Questions

Impulse control disorders include conditions involving problems in the self-control of emotions and behaviours. Impulse control disorders typically involve a severe, long-lasting pattern of disruptive, harmful or risky behaviours.

Intermittent explosive disorder is the most frequent impulse control condition which has a lifetime frequency of roughly 7% in the general population as compared to other impulse control disorders.

It has been seen that depression, anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Schizophrenia and substance abuse disorder commonly co-occur with poor impulse control.

Cognitive behaviour therapy and behaviour therapy are the best therapy for impulse control.

You can help a person with impulse control disorder by supporting them, discussing their symptoms and then helping them out to seek help from a mental health professional.

Yes, impulse control disorder is a mental illness which usually has an onset in childhood and adolescence. This disorder involves disruptive and harmful behaviours which are dangerous for the person himself and society.

Impulsive behaviour in adults can be treated by psychotherapy and medications. In psychotherapy, the person with impulsive behaviour is taught different ways to decrease the intensity and frequency of impulsiveness by the therapist. Medications are only prescribed by the doctor as per the symptom severity.

The symptoms of impulse control disorder can only be managed by psychotherapy and medications. The treatment approaches aim to minimize the symptoms intensity, severity and how an individual's well-being can be enhanced. Medicines must be prescribed by the doctor.

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