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Antisocial behavior disorder is a type of conduct disorder. According to the Encyclopedia of Children’s Health, “antisocial behaviors are disruptive acts characterized by covert and overt hostility and intentional aggression toward others”.
Adolescents that struggle with antisocial behavior commonly suffer from other developmental and/ or behavioral problems (i.e. depression, learning disabilities, impulsivity, hyperactivity…etc.). With the proper treatment and support, a young person can learn the tools needed to manage and adjust his or her antisocial behavior urges.
There are a number of risk factors that play a part in the development of antisocial behaviors. They include environmental stressors, genetics, and neurobiological factors. The genetic factors are primarily the way in which a child’s brain develops. The neurobiological risk factors can be linked to traumatic head injury, maternal drug use during pregnancy, low birth weight, birth complications, chronic illness, and/ or prenatal brain damage. Certain environmental risk factors can include the following:
- Parental drug and alcohol abuse
- Family history of antisocial behaviors, or other psychiatric disorders
- Economic distress
- Unstable home life
- Physical, emotional, verbal abuse
- Heavy exposure to violence (including media violence: television, video games, internet sites…etc.)
The development of antisocial behaviors also depends on a young person’s personality and temperament. The predecessor to antisocial behavior disorder, known as conduct disorder, can develop at any stage in a young person’s adolescence.
Every teenager is different and will have varied experiences throughout their adolescence. Certain symptoms that are commonly exhibited in teens with antisocial behavior disorder can include, but are not limited to the following behaviors:
- Self-injuring behaviors
- Lack of empathy
- Skipping school
- Impulsive behaviors
- Mood swings
- Minimal remorse for actions
- Social isolation
- Intentionally hurting others
- Running away from home
- Getting in fights
If your teenager exhibits any of the above symptoms, and there is concern that he or she may be struggling from antisocial behavior disorder, it is best to obtain professional help for guidance.
Diagnosing antisocial behavior disorder can be challenging. One of the fundamental symptoms of antisocial behavior disorder is a lack of empathy. Teens will often misrepresent their symptoms and feel no remorse for lying or providing inaccurate information. Therefore, unlike other mental health disorders, a typical personality test is an insufficient diagnosis method. Instead, psychological evaluations that address thoughts, feelings, behavior patterns, relationships and family history must be conducted. For young people who exhibit antisocial behaviors as well as display evidence of conduct disorder, it is not unusual for an antisocial personality disorder diagnosis to follow. Antisocial personality disorder is not typically diagnosed in people under the age of eighteen. Properly trained medical or mental health professionals must evaluate and provide the diagnosis of antisocial behavior disorder, conduct disorder, as well as antisocial personality disorder.
At Pacific Teen Treatment we create unique treatment plans that are tailored to address the specific needs of each of our residents. It is highly common that young people with antisocial behavior disorder go undiagnosed. Furthermore, the treatment for various conduct disorders can be challenging, as they are highly resistant to treatment. However, there are many types of therapy that can be beneficial for teens struggling with conduct disorder or antisocial behavior disorder. Teaching and reinforcing positive interactions with peers can help develop a teen’s social skills and decrease their antisocial behaviors. Additionally, systemic therapies, akin to what is offered at Pacific Teen Treatment, have been proven to be effect methods of treatment.
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Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact an individual for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.