What Is Conduct Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Treatment

Conduct disorder is a group of behavioural and emotional problems affecting kids and youngsters

Shubhangi Shah
Written by: Shubhangi ShahPublished at: Jan 24, 2022Updated at: Jan 24, 2022
What Is Conduct Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Treatment

Have you come across a child or a youngster whose behaviour can be termed as extreme, who has a hard time following rules and behaves in a socially unacceptable manner? Although many are quick to blame that person for his/her behaviour, it might be due to a disorder called conduct disorder. A mental health issue, conduct disorder is generally seen in youngsters, but it can develop in kids too, according to Lissun, which is a Gurugram-based mental health startup. It can be defined as a group of behavioural and emotional problems characterised by a disregard for others. Kids suffering from conduct disorder find it difficult to behave in an amicable and socially-acceptable way. Their behaviour can be seen as extreme and far from what is called age-appropriate. Although people from both genders can suffer from it, conduct disorder is more commonly seen in boys as compared to girls. For more information on this disorder, Onlymyhealth spoke to Mr Krishna Veer Singh, co-founder & CEO of Lissun, a Gurugram-based startup that works in the field of mental health.

Symptoms Of Conduct Disorder

Bullying is a symptom of conduct disorder

(Photo Credit: Freepik)

Excessive aggression and complete disregard for others are generally seen in people suffering from conduct disorder. Following are some other signs that can help you spot if someone is suffering from this disorder:

  • Temper tantrums
  • Breaking rules
  • Bullying
  • Lying excessively
  • Stealing
  • Violation of other’s civic rights

There is another layer to it. Youngsters with conduct disorder find it difficult to feel and express empathy or remorse, according to Lissun. They need an expert’s help and support as if left untreated, conduct disorder can cause severe problems later in adult life.

Also read: Signs And Symptoms For Abnormal Behaviour In Kids: Know Ways To Differentiate

Causes For Conduct Disorder

There can be several underlying causes for conduct disorder, such as:

  • Impairment in the frontal lobe of the brain
  • Children who face abuse, parental rejection, and neglect also develop conduct disorder
  • Poverty
  • Lack of proper nutrition
  • Lack of parents’ involvement

These are some of the causes that can lead to a kid or a youngster developing conduct disorder. It requires timely treatment, otherwise, it can lead to chronic illnesses as well.

Risk Factors For Conduct Disorder

As we saw, conduct disorder can be seen in youngsters as well as kids. Also, it’s more commonly seen among boys. But are some people more likely to suffer from it than the rest? The answer is, yes. Following are some of the risk factors for conduct disorder:

  • Low IQ
  • Lack of achievements
  • Poor parental supervision
  • Punitive or erratic parental supervision
  • Cold parental attitude
  • Conflict between parents
  • Poor peer relationships
  • Abuse, both verbal as well as physical
  • Low income

Diagnosis & Treatment For Conduct Disorder

Therapy can be helpful in conduct disorder

(Photo Credit: Freepik)

If the extreme or socially unacceptable behaviour of the child or youngster persists, it’s time to see a psychiatrist or any other mental health expert. The doctor will then decide the treatment depending on age, symptoms, and overall health, as per Johns Hopkins University.

Treatment options include:

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: In this, the patient learns to communicate and express him/herself in a better way.
  • Family Therapy: Since conduct disorder has a lot to do with family dynamics, hence, fixing it can help treat the disorder. And that is exactly what happens in family therapy.
  • Play Therapy: Children love to play. Hence, psychiatrists often employ play to treat kids suffering from conduct disorder.
  • Medicines: Although not used on kids, if the child suffers from an underlying issue, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), then medicines are generally prescribed. 

How To Manage Conduct Disorder?

Although both kids and youngsters suffer from conduct disorder. The case with the former can be a bit peculiar as they heavily rely on family support. Hence, if your kid suffers from conduct disorder, the following are some of the tips that can help you manage it:

  • First and foremost, observe your child and do not ignore behaviour that isn’t socially acceptable.
  • Pay attention to your child’s behaviour and try to understand the factors contributing to it.
  • Take your child regularly for health appointments.
  • Take part in family activities.
  • Don’t ignore family therapies.
  • If overwhelmed or stuck, reach out for support.
  • Work with the therapist and set behaviour goals.

Seeing your child suffering from conduct disorder can be tough. But it is harder for the child to suffer from it. Hence, help him/her and do not turn your back. Try to understand your child’s psychology, concerns, reasons why he/she is behaving in such a way. And if needed, never shy away from consulting an expert, who can help you to deal with the situation in a much better way. Remember, timely treatment is crucial to resolving the health issue.

(With inputs from Lissun, a Gurugram-based tech startup)

Photo Credit: Freepik