Impulse Control Disorders
by Michael Jubinville, MPH
Impulse control disorders (ICDs) are based on having extreme urges and failing to resist acting on them.
ICDs can involve:
ICDs have a harmful impact on daily life. They cause problems with school, work, and other people in your life. They often involve problems with money and the law.
The cause of ICDs is unknown. Chemical changes in the frontal lobe may be linked with ICDs. The frontal lobe of the brain controls impulses.
Your chances may also be higher for:
ICDs can start at any age. But, many start when you're a child or a teen. Symptoms are based on the ICD you have.
ICDs may cause:
People with ICDs tend to feel:
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A psychological exam will be done. Some people may have burns or other injuries that can be seen. This makes diagnosing an ICD easier. For others, it can be made based on your pattern of behavior that doesn’t have a better explanation.
ICDs are treated with:
One or more medicines may be needed. It may take some time to find the right ones. They are used to balance the chemicals in your brain. The most common are antidepressants, but others can be used.
Therapy may be done alone or in a group. It will help you to cope with problems that contribute to ICD. It also helps you change how you react to urges.
There is no way to prevent ICDs since the cause is unknown.
American Psychiatric Association
National Institute of Mental Health
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Dell’Osso B, Altamura AC, Allen A, Marazziti D, Hollander E. Epidemiologic and Clinical updates on impulse control disorders: a critical review. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2006;256(8):464-475.
Ploskin D. What are impulse control disorders? Psych Central website. Available at: https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-are-impulse-control-disorders. Updated July 17, 2016. Accessed August 30, 2018.
Schreiber L, Odlaug BL, Grant JE. Impulse control disorders: updated review of clinical characteristics and pharmacological management. Front Psychiatry. 2011;2:1.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 8/30/2018
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