Christie Clinic - Medicine for Your Life

Our website is currently having technical difficulties. To view the site, please click here

Health Encyclopedia

Health Encyclopedia

An invaluable resource of health information.

Conduct disorder

Conduct disorder is a disorder of childhood and adolescence that involves chronic behavior problems, such as:

  • Defiant, impulsive, or antisocial behavior
  • Drug use
  • Criminal activity
  • Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Conduct disorder has been associated with:

    • Child abuse
    • Family conflicts
    • Genetic defects
    • Parental drug addiction or alcoholism
    • Poverty

    The diagnosis is more common among boys.

    It is hard to know how common the disorder is, because many of the qualities necessary to make the diagnosis (such as "defiance" and "rule breaking") can be hard to define. For an accurate diagnosis, the behavior must be far more extreme than simple adolescent rebellion or boyish exuberance.

    Conduct disorder is often associated with attention-deficit disorder. Both conditions carry a major risk for alcohol and/or other drug dependence.

    Conduct disorder also can be an early sign of depression or bipolar disorder.

    Children with conduct disorder tend to be impulsive, difficult to control, and unconcerned about the feelings of others.

  • Symptoms
    • Antisocial behaviors, such as bullying and fighting
    • Breaking rules without apparent reason
    • Cruel or aggressive behavior toward people and animals (fights, using dangerous weapons, forced sexual activity, mugging, or purse snatching)
    • Destruction of property (deliberately setting fires, breaking and entering, destroying other people's property)
    • Heavy drinking and/or heavy illicit drug use
    • Lying to get a favor or avoid obligations
    • Running away
    • Truancy (beginning before age 13)
    • Vandalism
  • Signs and tests

    Some of the common signs of conduct disorder are:

    • Bullying
    • Fighting
    • Staying out at night without concern for curfew or other limits

    These children often make no effort to hide their aggressive behaviors and have difficulty making close friends. The diagnosis is made based on a history of these kinds of behaviors.

  • Treatment

    Successful treatment requires close involvement of the child's family. Parents can learn techniques to help manage their child's problem behavior.

    In cases of abuse, the child may need to be removed from the family and placed in a less chaotic environment. Treatment with medications or talk therapy may be used for depression and attention-deficit disorder, which commonly accompany conduct disorder.

    Many "behavioral modification" schools, "wilderness programs," and "boot camps" are sold to parents as solutions for conduct disorder. These may use a form of "attack therapy" or "confrontation," which can actually be harmful. There is no research support for such techniques. Research suggests that treating children at home, along with their families, is more effective.

    If you are considering an inpatient program, be sure to check it out thoroughly. Serious injuries and deaths have been associated with some programs. They are not regulated in many states.

  • Expectations (prognosis)

    Children who have severe or frequent symptoms tend to have the poorest outlook. Expectations are also worse for those who have other illnesses, such as mood and drug abuse disorders.

  • Complications

    Children with conduct disorder may go on to develop personality disorders as adults, particularly antisocial personality disorder. As their behaviors worsen, these individuals may also develop significant drug and legal problems. Depression and bipolar disorder may develop in adolescence and early adulthood.

  • Calling your health care provider

    See your health care provider if your child:

    • Continually gets in trouble
    • Has mood swings
    • Is bullying others
    • Is being victimized
    • Seems to be overly aggressive

    Early treatment may help.

  • Prevention

    The sooner the treatment for conduct disorder is started, the more likely the child will learn adaptive behaviors and prevent some of the potential complications.

  • References

    Conduct disorder. In: Moore DP, Jefferson JW. Handbook of Medical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby; 2004:chap 24.

    Thomas CR. Evidence-based practice for conduct disorder symptoms. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2006;45:109-114.

    Whittinger NS. Clinical precursors of adolescent conduct disorder in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2007;46:179-187.

Review Date: 1/15/2009

Reviewed By: Christos Ballas, MD, Attending Psychiatrist, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris Photo Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris
727 East Court Street Paris, IL 61944 Dermatology: 366-1248; Vein and Vascular: 366-2670
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on University Photo Christie Clinic on University
101 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 Main Phone: (217) 366-1200
Billing Services: (217) 366-1382
Toll Free: (888) 391-0412
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic on Windsor/Convenient Care
1801 West Windsor Road Champaign, IL 61822 (217) 366-8000
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant Photo Christie Clinic at Presence Covenant
1400 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 366-1200
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Rantoul Photo Christie Clinic in Rantoul
209 West Borman Drive Rantoul, IL 61866 (217) 892-9671
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Mahomet/Convenient Care
1001 Commercial Drive Mahomet, IL 61853 Main Number: (217) 586-6600 Convenient Care: (217)366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Tuscola Photo Christie Clinic in Tuscola
300 North Main Street Tuscola, IL 61953 (217) 253-9258
Christie Clinic CU Sleep Photo CU Sleep
1207 South Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 355-1684
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic Cancer Center Photo Christie Clinic Cancer Center
109 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 (217) 366-5180
Christie Clinic Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan) Photo Convenient Care in County Market (Kirby & Duncan)
2901 West Kirby Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 366-8130
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Urbana/Convenient Care
1710 East Windsor Road Urbana, IL 61802 (217) 344-9440
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Logan
800 North Logan Avenue Danville, IL 61832 (217) 431-8930
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic on Fox Drive Photo Christie Clinic on Fox Drive
2110 Fox Drive, Suite B Champaign, IL 61820
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Monticello at Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic Photo Christie Clinic in Monticello at Kirby Medical Group Specialty Clinic
1109 B North State Street Monticello, IL 61856 (217) 366-1304
Gibson Area Hospital
1120 N Melvin Gibson City, IL 60936 (217) 784-2240
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Mattoon Photo Christie Clinic in Mattoon
105 B Professional Plaza Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 345-3000
Christie Clinic Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System Photo Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System
1000 Health Center Drive Mattoon, IL 61938 (217) 258-2588
Christie Clinic The Champaign SurgiCenter Photo The Champaign SurgiCenter
1702 S. Mattis Avenue Champaign, IL 61821 (217) 326-2030
Christie Clinic The Carle Foundation Hospital Photo The Carle Foundation Hospital
611 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 (217) 383-3311
Iroquois Memorial Hospital
200 E. Fairman Ave. Watseka, IL 60970 (815) 432-5841
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Savoy Photo Christie Clinic in Savoy
501 North Dunlap Avenue Savoy, IL 61874 Transformations: (217) 366-7460 Internal Medicine: (217) 366-5434 Ophthalmology: (217) 366-1250
Christie Clinic on West Park Street
1405 West Park Street Urbana, IL 61801 217-366-1237
Christie Clinic in Monticello
107 West Main Street Monticello, IL 61856 217.762.3352
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Decatur Photo Christie Clinic in Decatur
100 South Water Street Suite 103 Decatur, IL 62523 217-362-0661- telephone
Christie Clinic Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care Photo Christie Clinic in Danville on Vermilion/Convenient Care
3545 North Vermilion Street Danville, IL 61832 (217) 442-8611