Teen Conduct Disorder (TCD)

The term conduct disorder comprises of certain behavioral and emotional problems having arisen during adolescence. Teenagers may show aggression and hostility, violating rights of others. People may perceive them as delinquents rather than being mentally ill. They may pose as being very stable and confident but are generally insecure and wrongly believe others to be hostile towards them.

Types of Conduct Disorder

Depending upon the occurrence of conduct disorder it may be considered:

Childhood: When symptoms appear before ten years

Adolescent: When symptoms appear during teen years

Unspecified: When age of occurrence of symptoms is unknown

Symptoms of TCD

Symptoms of conduct disorder may manifest as mild, moderate or severe and include a range of varying degrees of inappropriate behavior such as:

  • Unwillingness to obey rules
  • Unruly and impulsive behavior
  • Indifferent to consequences of their actions
  • Lack of concern for others and their feelings
  • Aggression and destructive behavior, such as, lying, stealing, forgery, alcohol/drug abuse, sexual promiscuity or rape, harming people or animals, intimidation and manipulation

Causes of TCD

The causes contributing to this disorder may be genetic and environmental, both nature and nurture.

Genetic Causes: The area of the brain responsible for impulse control, planning actions and learning from past experiences is impaired if there is damage to the frontal lobe of brain. This adversely affects cognitive skills like problem resolution, memory and emotional control. The damage to the frontal lobe may be genetic or inherited. TCD may also be caused due to a brain injury.

Environmental Factors: Environmental factors may include child abuse, a disharmonious family atmosphere, active drug or alcohol abuse by parents, a poor financial situation etc.

Factors increasing the risk of TCD

Many factors may contribute to an increased risk of TCD. These may include the fact that the teenager is male and living in an urban atmosphere, with a family history of poverty, drug or alcohol abuse, neglect by parents, psychological disorders, and history of trauma.

Diagnosing TCD

Professional help and evaluation is required if a teenager is showing signs of TCD. It involves a study of behavioral patterns, asking many questions, and attempting to uncover the underlying cause. The behavioral patterns of TCD must be significantly serious to adversely affect the teenager at school, at home and socially. The teenager must be observed over a period of time and exhibit at least three behaviors common to the disorder before a conclusion can be reached.

Treatment of TCD

Behavior Therapy: This therapy is used when there are no symptoms of any abuse. Behavior therapy teaches the teenager to be confident in expression and in control of their emotions. It prepares the parents to manage the teenager’s behavior. This treatment is required for the long term as it establishes new patterns of behavior. An early diagnosis with early intervention of therapy will modify the progression of the disorder and lessen the severity of its symptoms.

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy helps to counter negative thought patterns between the teenager and his/her family encouraging better dynamic and methods of peaceful interaction. In some cases, such as when there are co-occurring issues, a psychotherapist may include a regimen of medication together with the therapy.

Treatment at Hillcrest

Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center (Hillcrest) is a licensed, residential mental health facility in the tropical foothills of Agoura Hills, specializing in the treatment of TCD, and guided by expert mental healthcare professionals and therapists who are committed to the long-lasting and sustained healing of each client, both during and post treatment. At Hillcrest, teen residential treatment is dynamic, multi-layered, varied and eclectic. In addition to individualized therapeutic programs designed specifically to suit each client’s condition and temperament, a range of extracurricular activities and hobbies are also offered to ensure healthy and fun outlets for each client depending on their skills and talents.

Hillcrest’s individualized approach allows for personal attention and care of the highest of standards for each client. By recognizing the unique nature and experience of each client, and valuing the distinct abilities and character traits that your loved ones bring to the Hillcrest program, positive healing attributes are maximized and strengthened, allowing each client to flourish while at Hillcrest, and moreover, to learn to nurture those positive characteristics to achieve independence and constructive impactful change upon re-entry and re-integration into the outside world.

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