Behavior disorders can greatly impact a person’s life. Whether you’ve been diagnosed since a child, are concerned about warning signs in a loved one, or are recognizing symptoms in your own life, the best way to treat a behavioral disorder is to be fully informed.
Our team of experts led by board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Ronald Winfield at Greater Lowell Psychiatric Associates in North Chelmsford, Massachusetts, specializes in helping you identify, treat, and manage the symptoms of behavioral disorders so you can live a happy and successful life.
Behavioral disorder basics
Behavioral disorders are classified as a pattern of behaviors that are disruptive and harmful to you and those around you. These disorders are typically diagnosed and treated in early childhood, but if left untreated they can affect your adult life making it difficult for you to maintain healthy relationships, regular employment, and other functions of a typical adult.
Some risk factors for developing a behavior disorder include but are not limited to:
- Childhood substance abuse
- Low self-esteem
- Parental substance abuse
- Lack of parental supervision as a childhood
- Traumatic events
- Exposure to toxic substances as a child
- Lack of emotional attachment to parents
- Associating with peers involved in deviant behavior
There are many kinds of behavioral issues. Here are the five most common affecting Americans today:
1. Conduct disorder
Conduct disorder occurs when you struggle with antisocial behaviors, following rules, and showing empathy towards those around you. Signs of this disorder usually appear around the age of 16 and include:
- Starting physical altercations
- Engaging in bullying or threatening your peers
- Destroying or breaking into private property
Other indicators of conduct disorder are lack of remorse, concern, empathy, or any emotional response for your actions.
2. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
Children naturally act out in defiance and throw tantrums. When that behavior translates into adulthood, it’s called oppositional defiant disorder. ODD begins in childhood with behaviors like frequent questioning of authority, excessive arguing, refusing to comply, and intentionally engaging in behaviors that upset others.
If not diagnosed and treated at a young age, ODD can present itself in your later life as feeling angry at the world, feeling misunderstood, disliking authority figures, especially at work, becoming defensive when presented with opposition or feedback, and blaming others for your actions.
3. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is likely one of the most common behavior issues for children, adolescents, and adults. It’s signs and symptoms include:
- Inability to pay attention
- Lack of time management skills
- Mood swings
- Low frustration threshold and trouble coping with stress
These symptoms can lead to complications like financial instability, unemployment, frequent trouble with law enforcement, substance abuse or misuse, and unstable relationships.
4. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
If you have OCD, you likely feel you’re drowning in a constant state of worry. OCD is characterized by thoughts, actions, and impulses that are chronic, uncontrollable, and intrusive. You might engage in behaviors like constant washing and cleaning, repeating phrases or prayers, following strict routines, or repetitively counting and checking.
For example, you may have a significant fear of or be worried about germs. This might cause you to wash your hands compulsively to get rid of any potential germs even if your hands become chapped, raw, and blistered.
Other obsessions can include:
- Severe doubt and uncertainty
- The need to have things orderly or symmetrical
- Ideation about losing control or harming yourself or others
OCD is an overwhelming condition that invades and disrupts your life making it difficult to function normally. OCD can lead to other complications like bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety.
5. Behavioral addiction
Addiction is not limited to substance abuse. Addiction occurs when your brain associates pleasure and activates its reward mechanism when engaging in an activity. There are many behaviors that you can become addicted to including:
- Video games
- Plastic surgery
- Binge eating
- Risky behavior