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The DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) defines a subset of disorders called Impulse Control Disorders. Little is known about the specific biologic basis of these disorders, but they are considered part of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder spectrum, a subset of Anxiety Disorders.
- Intermittent Explosive Disorder (sudden, minimally provoked episodes of rage, anger, verbal outbursts, physical violence, and/or destruction of property)
- Kleptomania (stealing, not necessarily shoplifting, though)
- Pathological Gambling
- Pyromania (fire-starting), and
- Body-focused repetitive or compulsive behaviors such as trichotillomania (a compulsion to pull one’s hair out), onychophagia (biting nails), and dermatillomania (compulsive skin picking).
The individual is unable to control their impulses and as a result, they can face significant disruption in their functioning and quality of life because they act way before they take the time to consider options or consequences. In many cases, the individual can feel regret for their behavior, but before hand, it’s almost like they can’t stop themselves.
Various treatments include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, medication management (with SNRI’s or SSRI’s/anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety medications, even anti-psychotic medications in some cases). The success of therapy and meds is largely dependent on when symptoms started, how severe they are, and how long the person went before seeking treatment. Symptoms often fluctuate with the amount of perceived stress.
So, have any of your characters developed or displayed any of these impulsive behaviors? How did it get expressed?
Remember, this post is for writing purposes only and is NOT meant to be construed as medical treatment or advice.
Check out Lydia’s post for Medical Mondays!