How Do Impulse Control Disorders Develop

how do impulse control disorders develop

Impulse control disorder is a condition in which the affected has trouble controlling behaviors or emotions. In most cases, their behaviors conflict with the law and social norms and also violate the rights of others.

Examples of these disorders include conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, kleptomania, intermittent explosive disorder, and pyromania.

These disorders may be misdiagnosed or overlooked; hence those suffering from these conditions may wind up not getting the help they need. If people have a better understanding of the disorder, closing the treatment gap is possible, and the individuals can get proper care to help improve their symptoms. 

When a Behavior Becomes a Disorder

Usually, the impulsive action stems from built-up tension that has reached a point where someone can no longer resist. One can get an immediate short-term sense of relief when they act on impulsive behavior.

However, feelings of shame and guilt could follow, and the repeated acts of impulsion could lead to more negative consequences like regret or more significant emotional distress in the long-term.

Impulse control disorders are the likely causes for when an impulsive behavior or emotional toll becomes unmanageable or relevantly disrupts one’s life.

Who is at Risk?

Most people diagnosed with impulse control disorders have these traits:

·         Are in early adulthood or adolescents

·         Are male

·         Family history of mental health disorders

·         Family history of substance use disorders

·         History of drug abuse

·         History of witnessing violence

Causes of Impulse Control Disorders

Mental health professions haven’t been able to identify specific causes of impulse control disorders. Hence we still don’t know for sure how these disorders develop.

However, certain factors come to play in leading up to the onset of these disorders. Some of the contributing factors include:

Environmental Factors

Children raised in families where verbal abuse, violence, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and explosive emotional reactions to different situations are prevalent, are at a higher risk of developing an impulse control disorder.

The onset of these behaviors in children and adolescents may be somewhat an unconscious way of trying to gain control over the situations affecting them and looking for a sense of escape amidst the chaos in their environment.


As with most mental health disorders, there is a strong genetic tie to the onset of impulse control disorders.  Studies show that children and adolescents with family members struggling with illnesses like mood disorders are highly susceptible to developing signs and symptoms of impulse control disorders.


There is also a high probability that when specific brain structures in charge of emotions, memory, and planning become imbalance, symptoms of these disorders could develop.

Mental Disorders and Chronic Stress

Impulse control disorders can also commonly be as a result of chronic stress or due to mental illness. People with mental disorders experience altered moods that sometimes cause them to do things they regret afterward.

What to Do?

If you realize you have an impulse control disorder or someone in your family has, it is essential to seek help because the signs and symptoms, behaviors, and side effects of these disorders can quickly take over a person’s life, affecting their mental and physical health, work, relationships, and their overall quality of wellbeing and vitality.

How Do Impulse Control Disorders Develop
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