Impulse Control Disorder Causes And Treatment

Impulse control disorder is a type of disorder in which the affected person has the urge to hurt themselves with some sort of activity. By doing so, the affected person will experience satisfaction after completing the action. Kleptomania, gambling, trichotillomania and pyromania are some of the conditions which come under the impulse control disorder category.


The exact cause of the impulse control disorder is unknown, but it is believed that it might be caused by genetic, neurological and environmental factors. There are some researchers saying that it is caused by hormonal imbalance, abnormal nerve impulses and variations in the levels of the brain chemicals. People who had head injury and/or epilepsy especially when they were children will be at greater risk of developing the disorder. In children, this impulse control disorder comes along with other conditions like attention deficit hyper activity disorder.

They pyromania disorder is characterized by behavior which is repetitive and deliberate. People who have this kind of disorder will experience the satisfaction and relief whenever they see the onset of a fire. They will be more attracted to fires and also to the accessories which are related to starting fires like lighters and matches.

Kleptomania is a type of disorder in which the affected people have the urge to steal objects, which will not be used in their personal life. They will generally be tense just before stealing the object but after completing the action they will be relaxed and will feel satisfaction.

Trichotillomania is a disorder in which the sufferers pull out their own hair which will result in bald patches and loss of hair. As with the other disorders, people with this disorder will experience relief and satisfaction after pulling out their hair.

Gambling is a disorder which is also known as pathological gambling. It is characterized by the following:

  • Having preoccupation with gambling
  • Relying on others to get financial support
  • Gambling with a large amount of money
  • Losing job or relationship due to gambling
  • Unsuccessful efforts to control gambling
  • Gambling in order to deal with tension
  • Telling lies to family members and friends in order to get involved in gambling
  • Being restless when trying to stop gambling


An impulse control disorder is treated in three different ways – with medication, behavior modification or psychotherapy. Medication and therapy are the best methods when you want to get rid of the disorder especially if it occurs with any other conditions like ADHD. If the disorder is accompanied by depression then it is better to treat it with anti-depressants. This is particularly important for trichotillomania and gambling.  The methods which are involved in the therapies are stress management, relaxation techniques, and behavior modification. There are also many support groups available and they might also help for dealing with the disorder.

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