Watch out for conduct disorders in teens

As parents we are often confused when we deal with our teens. The ‘you know nothing’ attitude from the kids can be a debilitating experience, says Dr Arun Kumar Sharma, Specialist Neurologist, Aster Medical Centre of DM Healthcare.

By Staff Reporter

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Published: Sat 23 Jun 2012, 8:47 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:44 PM

Psychiatrists define conduct disorder as an extreme situation when a child seriously misbehaves with aggressive or non-aggressive behaviour against people, animals or property that may be characterised as belligerent, destructive, threatening, physically cruel, deceitful, disobedient or dishonest.

“Conduct disorder has increased incidence during adolescence and the root cause can be attributed to biologic, psychosocial and familial factors. Six to 16 per cent of boys and 2 to 9 per cent of girls meet the diagnostic criteria of conduct disorder,” he said.

Aggression to people and animals, history of using weapons causing serious physical harm to others, indulging in theft, purse snatching, extortion, armed robbery, forcing someone into sexual activity are some of the symptoms of the conduct disorder.

Some of the characteristics of conduct disorder are as follows

  • Onset in late childhood or early adolescence.
  • More common in boys than in girls
  • A tendency to misinterpret the intention of people around him or her
  • Reacts in an aggressive manner with little or no remorse.
  • Highly intolerant.
  • No regard for normal safety issues
  • Threats of suicide.
  • Substance abuse
  • Difficulty getting along in school

“Conduct disorder is often confused with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) because of the similarity in their symptoms. The condition may fall into the criteria of bipolar disorder as well,” added Dr Sharma. A deep-rooted understanding of consequences and the necessity to stick to a set of rules needs to be instilled in the minds of children by the care-giver or parent. Help of a therapist should be sought when needed.

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