Pin Me

What is Conduct Disorder?

written by: M. Staker • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 1/23/2011

What is conduct disorder? Read on to learn more about this disorder, including the causes and symptoms of it.

  • slide 1 of 5

    What is Conduct Disorder?

    Conduct disorder is a group of emotional and behavioral problems that occurs in adolescents and children. Although behavioral and emotional problems are common in children and teens, they typically only last for a short period of time. Those with conduct disorder exhibit these problems for long periods of time, and the issues are more severe. Children with this disorder are described as impulsive, out of control, and sometimes dangerous. Their behavior in social settings is not normal, and they have no regard for the feelings of those around them. They also do not make any attempts to hide their aggression, making it difficult for them to maintain relationships with their peers.

    According to studies, conduct disorder may be a sign of upcoming depression or bipolar disorder. Since many of the behavioral problems that exist in those with conduct disorder are often also present with other childhood disorders, it is often misdiagnosed, making it difficult to determine how common it is. However, it is thought that boys are more likely to have it than girls.

  • slide 2 of 5

    The Causes of Conduct Disorder

    The exact cause of conduct disorder is still unknown, but research suggests that it could be due to a combination of different factors. Researchers believe that biological, environmental, genetic, and social factors may all play a role in causing this disorder.

    Studies have shown that defects or injuries to the brain can lead to different types of behavior disorders. Specifically, conduct disorder has been linked to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain.

    Children who have close family members with mental disorders have also been shown to be more likely to have conduct disorder, suggesting that the disorder may be inherited. Children who grow up in a dysfunctional family are more likely to be diagnosed with this disorder. This may be due to the fact that they are not disciplined consistently, or they may have been abused throughout their childhood.

    Children who have experienced traumatic events or who have parents who abuse drugs and alcohol are also more likely to be diagnosed with this disorder.

  • slide 3 of 5

    The Symptoms of Conduct Disorder

    The symptoms of conduct disorder vary depending on the age of the child and the severity of the disorder. Aggression is one of the general symptoms of conduct disorder. The aggression can be quite severe, involving physically harming others, bullying, and being cruel to animals. Children with this disorder often display destructive behavior such as vandalism or arson. Deceitful behavior is also common among children with conduct disorder. Signs of deceitful behavior include lying, stealing, and burglary, among others. Children with conduct disorder also have a difficult time following common rules. They may skip school, act inappropriately in social settings, pull pranks, or even run away from home.

  • slide 4 of 5

    Resources

    WebMD: Mental Health and Conduct Disorder

    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Conduct Disorder

    A.D.A.M: Conduct Disorder