Impulse Control Disorders
Impulse control disorders (ICDs) are extreme urges and failure to resist acting on them.
ICDs can involve:
- Pulling one’s hair, eyebrows, or eyelashes—trichotillomania
- Outbursts of physical or verbal rage—intermittent explosive disorder
- Setting fires—pyromania
- Sexual thoughts and acts
- Uncontrolled use of the Internet, which may serve as an outlet for other ICDs
ICDs can make daily life difficult. They cause problems with school, work, and other people in your life. They often involve problems with money and the law.
ICD is more common in those who:
- Have other mental health problem such as bipolar disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Have substance misuse problem or problem in the family
- Have family history of ICD
- Have Tourette syndrome
- Have family problems such as fighting or abuse
- Use some medicine that treat Parkinson disease
- Have late stage Parkinson disease
ICDs can start at any age. Many start when you're a child or a teen. Symptoms are based on the ICD you have.
ICDs may cause:
- Injuries from fights or burns from starting fires
- Lying or stealing
- Compulsive or repetitive behaviors
- Irritability, impatience, or anger
- Problems with your family, partner, or spouse
- Repeated problems with other people in your life, school, or work
- Problems with money or the law, which may involve being arrested
People with ICDs tend to feel:
- Growing tension before the act
- Pleasure or euphoria during the act
- Relief after the act—there may or may not be feelings of guilt or distress
Treatment can help to manage symptoms. The exact plan will be based on individual needs. Steps may include:
- Medicine—to ease symptoms. Treatment may include more than 1 type of medicine. It may take some time to find the right mix of medicine.
- Therapy may be done alone or in a group. It will help to cope with problems linked to ICD. Medicine may also ease reaction to urges. There are many types of therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and family therapy are some choices that may be used for ICD.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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American Psychiatric Association https://www.psychiatry.org
National Institute of Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov
Canadian Mental Health Association https://cmha.ca
Canadian Psychiatric Association https://www.cpa-apc.org
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