What is it?

Conduct disorder describes a group of psychiatric conditions characterized by behavioral and emotional problems, usually beginning during childhood or adolescence. Patients with conduct disorder show a persistent behavioral pattern outside of social norms, especially rule-breaking or violating other people's rights. About 35% of patients will be diagnosed later in life as having "antisocial personality disorder," a personality disorder diagnosed by definition after 18 years old. There is no single cause for conduct disorder. Genetic and environmental causes are involved, and risk factors include child abuse, dysfunctional family, and head trauma or disease.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Unsocialized Aggressive Conduct Disorder
- Childhood Onset Conduct Disturbance
- Adolescent Onset Conduct Disturbance
- Socialized Conduct Disorder
- Intermittent Explosive Disorder
- Pathological Gambling
- Pyromania
- Kleptomania

Signs & symptoms

Conduct disorder is divided into few subtypes, depending on the severity and the specific symptoms. Symptoms of conduct disorder may include:
- Aggressive behavior – intimidating or physically harming people or animals.
- Deceitful behavior – lying, stealing, breaking into properties.
- Destructive behavior – vandalism, arson.
- Rule violations – drug and alcohol use, sexual behavior at a young age.


Diagnosis is made via a psychiatric assessment, conducted by a psychiatrist – a medical doctor specializing in psychiatry. This assessment includes questioning, physical exams, cognitive exams, and other tests that might exclude other diseases or conditions.


Treatment for conduct disorder depends considerably on the patient's motivation, and it focuses mainly on psychotherapy. Different methods of psychotherapy include cognitive-behavioral therapy and family therapy. Medical treatment may be prescribed to help with some of the symptoms and consist of antipsychotic and mood-stabilizing drugs.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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