Impulse Control Disorder


Impulse Control Disorder

Impulse control disorders are a group of disorders characterized by problems maintaining emotional and behavioral self-control. They include compulsive behaviors, and uncontrollable anger. These issues run much deeper than a simple lack of willpower; the urge to engage in maladaptive behaviors is so intense that impulse control disorders have been compared to obsessive/compulsive disorder (OCD).

There are typically five stages in the cycle of impulsivity:

  • The urge to engage in the unhealthy behavior arises.
  • The urge grows stronger until it can no longer be ignored.
  • There is a fleeting moment of pleasure while engaging in the behavior.
  • The person feels relief that their urge has been satisfied.
  • In a moment of clarity, the person might feel guilt and shame for having indulged their urge.

This behavioral cycle is recurrent, even though the disordered individual wants very badly for it to stop. Sometimes the behaviors are so compulsive that they take over the person’s life and prevent them from functioning in society. If you or someone you know suffers from impulse control disorders, please contact Advanced Psychiatry of DFW before the disease causes irreparable harm.

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Impulse Control Disorder Statistics

It is estimated that 75 million Americans suffer from an acute episode of impulse control disorder each year. The exact prevalence varies by the type of disorder. Of course, many cases go unreported. When factoring in substance abuse, the number could be much higher.


Symptoms of Impulse Control Disorders

Impulse control disorders involve engaging in maladaptive behaviors despite the negative consequences they might cause in the person’s life. Symptoms include:

  • Engaging in Risky Behaviors
  • Explosive Anger or Violence
  • Self-Isolation
  • Compulsive Lying
  • Increased Irritability
  • Impatience
  • Obsessive/Compulsive Thought Patterns
  • Decreased Self-Worth
  • Inability to Delay Gratification
  • Ignoring Negative Consequences

Types of Impulse Control Disorders

Our licensed psychiatric nurse practitioners treat all impulse control disorders, including:

  • Pathological Gambling. A pattern of compulsive gambling behavior that often leads to financial hardship.
  • Compulsive Shopping. A preoccupation with buying unnecessary items.
  • Binge Eating Disorder. Periods of compulsive overeating followed by shame.
  • Stealing. Compulsive stealing of items that are not needed.
  • Hair Pulling. Repetitive, intentional hair pulling or plucking.
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Sudden, significant outbursts of aggression or violence.
  • Fire Starting. Deliberate setting of fires for personal gratification.
  • Pathological Skin Picking. Compulsive picking of the skin to the point of tissue damage.

Impulses can take many forms, and this list is not exhaustive. If you don’t see your symptoms listed here, please call to schedule an evaluation.


Treatments for Impulse Control Disorders

Impulse control disorders are typically treated with a combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on identifying and retraining negative thought patterns to produce more positive behaviors, is often necessary for long-term success. Antidepressants have also been shown to help.


Our Impulse Control Disorder Treatment Plans

Advanced Psychiatry DFW tailors each treatment plan to the individual, taking into account the severity of their symptoms, their medical history, and their tolerance to specific medications. Our goal is to come up with a plan that our patients can comfortably follow and monitor their progress over the course of their follow-up exams. We take patient feedback very seriously and encourage questions and collaboration.

If you or a loved one has experienced a reduction in quality of life due to impulse control disorders, please call us or schedule an appointment online. Advanced Psychiatry is here to help you take back control of your life.

Contact Us

Ask a question or book an appointment below. For emergencies call 911 or visit your nearest hospital


Advanced Psychiatry, P.L.L.C

2485 E. Southlake Blvd., Suite 100, Southlake, Texas 76092

Office Hours

Monday-Thursday from 7am - 4pm and closed on Fridays.