Health & Fitness

4 Signs Your Loved One Might Have An Impulse Control Disorder

Impulse control disorders are a cluster of different types of conditions where individuals struggle to resist their urges, and these behaviors can create problems in various areas of their lives. There are several types of impulse control disorders, and this article will share some symptoms that may be an indicator of them.

1. An Inability To Control Yourself

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At the very core of it, all impulse control disorders involve self-control issues that feel nearly impossible to quell.

These behaviors can encompass almost anything – some people have an irresistible impulse to steal (kleptomania,) light things on fire (pyromania), gamble, and engage in sexual activity. It’s also widespread for people to have uncontrollable impulses to eat food and use the internet.

All of these can be very destructive to not only the individual but to those around them as well; property can become damaged, people can end up in jail or financial turmoil, and increase their risk of sexually-transmitted infections, to name a few examples.

2. Emotional Issues

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Impulse control disorders are linked to additional mental health concerns, like depression and anxiety. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is also frequently associated with them too, and there can be some overlap due to the nature of the condition.

Anger and irritability are also commonplace, and individuals who have impulse control problems like conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and intermittent explosive disorder, some of which can stem from one’s childhood.

These types of emotional problems can cause people to exhibit different behaviors, such as becoming isolated or detached from others and even using substances to try to cope with the negative feelings and emotions they’re experiencing.

3. Physical Signals

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While some can be hard to capture, physical indicators can sometimes be present for people with impulse control disorders, but it can largely depend on the type of condition they might be dealing with.

For instance, people who have pyromania may frequently have burn marks on them, or those with trichotillomania might have missing hair patches.

If your loved one is prone to violent outbursts, they might display different injuries from aggressive and reckless activities. In some cases, like conduct disorder, violence can involve animals, and people who have bites and scratches, in addition to the other criteria, might be engaging in animal cruelty.

4. Social Challenges

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As mentioned before, people with impulse control disorders can isolate themselves from others, which is a common feature in depression, but it’s possible to display other social problems that can be indicative of impulse issues.

For example, they can lie often and become very argumentative and disruptive at home, school, or work, and this can cause them to be reprimanded, have difficulties forming positive social relationships, and have poor academic performance.

It can also lead to physical violence and bullying, and instead of withdrawing from people, there are some individuals with impulse control disorders who actively seek to harm others, and this can lead to even more severe problems later on, such as antisocial personality disorder, which was previously known as psychopathy in the psychiatric literature.

What Causes Impulse Control Disorders?

As with most mental health conditions, it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint any specific cause for impulse control disorders. However, several risk factors can be attributed to genetics, biology, and the environment.

Impulse control disorders can affect anyone, but males are more likely to be, especially those with a family history of other psychiatric conditions as well as substance abuse disorders. Being exposed to violence and physical and emotional abuse, particularly at an early age, can also strongly increase one’s risk of developing a condition.

Can Impulse Control Disorders Be Treated?

Even the rarest impulse control disorders can be treated, but it takes a lot of work to be able to resist the urges. Typically, individuals who are committed to getting help and recognize that their behaviors are causing issues in their life, as well as others, will see excellent results from cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and working with a professional who understands how to utilize this technique to help people find relief for impulse control disorders.

CBT can also aid in overcoming the adjacent mental health issues that can be comorbid with impulse issues, like depression, anxiety, OCD, substance abuse disorder, and many more.

For some people, particularly those who have personality disorders, it can be hard to treat simply due to the fact that they don’t see the problem with their behaviors. Nonetheless, even severe cases can be managed, but they need to be enlightened on how their actions affect themselves and others before any meaningful progress can be made.

Support groups can also be a helpful outlet for people who have impulse control disorders because it allows them to relate to others, share their experiences, and possibly learn additional strategies that can work for them.

Lastly, medications can be helpful in controlling some of the symptoms that can appear. For example, antidepressants, as well as opioid antagonist drugs, have been known to be prescribed to those with impulse control disorder. Consult with a doctor or psychiatrist to find the best course of action for you.

Where To Learn More About Impulse Control Disorders

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As you’ve probably gathered by reading this article, impulse control disorders can manifest in different forms, and there is a lot more information you can gather about all of the kinds that are recognized out there.

If you want to read more about impulse control disorders and what people can do to address them, visit BetterHelp to find additional advice that can help you further understand this topic.

You’ll also be able to find out how you can find a qualified therapist who can help you or your loved one deal with their issues with impulsivity and gain control over their lives.


Impulsivity is a sign of many mental health issues, but it can be easier to identify them when you consider all of the other factors. While symptoms can vary, hopefully, this article has shown you some key features you should look out for. If impulsive control disorders are caught and treated early on, people diagnosed with them can learn how to have a happier and healthier future ahead of themselves by managing their symptoms.

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