Impulse-control disorder (ICD) is a mental disorder characterized by an inability to resist urges, impulses, or temptations to perform an act that is harmful to oneself or others. People with ICD often feel a sense of tension or arousal before engaging in the impulsive behavior. Common types of ICDs include pyromania (an urge to set fires), kleptomania (an urge to steal), intermittent explosive disorder (characterized by explosive outbursts of anger), and compulsive gambling. Treatment for ICD generally includes medication and/or psychotherapy.
Causes of Impulse Control Disorder
The exact cause of ICD is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with ICD often have family members with the disorder or other mental health disorders, which suggests that there may be a genetic component. Additionally, ICD has been linked to brain abnormalities, particularly in the regions involved in impulse control and decision-making. Stressful life events, such as trauma or abuse, may also contribute to the development of ICD.
Symptoms of Impulse Control Disorder
People with ICDs often feel a sense of tension or arousal before engaging in impulsive behavior. They may try to resist the urge, but eventually, give in to the impulse. The behavior typically provides temporary relief from anxiety or tension. Common symptoms of ICD include:
• Recurrent and intense urges to perform an act that is harmful to oneself or others
• An increasing sense of tension or arousal before engaging in the impulsive behavior
• A sense of relief or satisfaction after engaging in the impulsive behavior
• Acting on the impulse is not motivated by financial gain, although it may result in financial loss
• Acting on the impulse is not due to another mental health disorder, such as schizophrenia or mania
• The impulsivity causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
Types of Impulse Control Disorder
There are several different types of impulse control disorder, each characterized by a different type of impulsive behavior. Some common types of ICDs include:
Pyromania is characterized by an irresistible urge to set fires. People with pyromania often derive satisfaction from watching the fire burn and may feel relief from the tension or arousal they felt before setting the fire. Pyromaniacs typically don’t set fires for financial gain and are aware that their behavior is wrong.
Compulsive gambling is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to gamble despite negative consequences. People with this type of ICD often feel a need to gamble more money more frequently and take greater risks. They may gamble even when they can’t afford it and continue gambling even when they’re experiencing negative consequences—such as job loss, financial difficulties, and relationship problems—as a result of their gambling habits.
Kleptomania is characterized by recurrent urges to steal objects that have no personal value. People with kleptomania typically don’t steal for profit; instead, they derive satisfaction from stealing itself. They may feel a sense of tension before stealing and relief after committing the act.
Intermittent explosive disorder
Intermittent explosive disorder (IED) is characterized by repeated episodes of impulsive aggression that are out of proportion to any apparent trigger. People with IEDs often have angry outbursts—yelling, throwing things, hitting people—that are disproportionate to whatever provoked them. These episodes may occur without warning and can be difficult for people with IEDs to control.
If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms on a regular basis, you should consider seeking professional help. Left untreated, impulse control disorders can lead to serious problems—including financial ruin, job loss, legal problems, relationship difficulties—and even death. If you think you might have an impulse control disorder, talk to your doctor or mental health professional about diagnosis and treatment options.”