Conduct Disorder

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Conduct Disorder Subtypes

Subtypes of Conduct Disorder

There are two subtypes of conduct disorder

Childhood-onset type is defined by the onset of one criterion characteristic of conduct disorder before age 10. Children with childhood-onset conduct disorder are usually male, and frequently display physical aggression; they usually have disturbed peer relationships, and may have had oppositional defiant disorder during early childhood. These children usually meet the full criteria for conduct disorder before puberty, they are more likely to have persistent conduct disorder, and are more likely to develop adult antisocial personality disorder than those with the adolescent-onset type (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).

Adolescent-onset type is defined by the absence of conduct disorder prior to age 10. Compared to individuals with the childhood-onset type, they are less likely to display aggressive behaviors. These individuals tend to have more normal peer relationships, and are less likely to have persistent conduct disorders or to develop adult antisocial personality disorder. The ratio of males to females is also lower than for the childhood-onset type (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).

Severity of symptoms

Conduct disorder is classified as "mild" if there are few, if any, conduct problems in excess of those required for diagnosis and if these cause only minor harm to others (e.g., lying, truancy and breaking parental rules). A classification of "moderate" is applied when the number of conduct problems and effect on others are intermediate between "mild" and "severe". The "severe" classification is justified when many conduct problems exist which are in excess of those required for diagnosis, or the conduct problems cause considerable harm to others or property (e.g., rape, assault, mugging, breaking and entering) (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).

Co-morbidities and associated disorders

Children with conduct disorder are part of a population within which there are higher incidences of a number of disorders than in a normal population. The literature abounds with studies indicating the comorbid relationships between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Learning Difficulties, Mood Disorders, Depressive symptoms, Anxiety Disorders, Communication Disorders, and Tourettes Disorder. (American Psychiatric Association, 1994; Biederman, Newcorn, & Sprich, 1991). A high level of co-morbidity (almost 95%) was found among 236 ADHD children (aged 6-16 yrs) with conduct disorder, ODD and other related categories (Bird, Gould, & Staghezza Jaramillo, 1994). In an 8 year follow-up study, Barklay and colleagues (1990) found that 80% of the children with ADHD were still hyperactive as adolescents and that 60% of them had developed Oppositional Defiant or Conduct Disorder.

Prevalence of Conduct Disorder.

According to research cited in Phelps & McClintock (1994), 6% of children in the United States may have conduct disorder. The incidence of the disorder is thought to vary demographically, with some areas being worse than others. For example, in a New York sample, 12% had moderate level conduct disorder and 4% had severe conduct disorder. Since prevalence estimates are based primarily upon referral rates, and since many children and adolescents are never referred for mental health services, the actual incidences may well be higher (Phelps & McClintock, 1994)

Other Useful Links regarding Conduct Disorder

  • Symptoms of Conduct Disorder
  • Course of Conduct Disorder
    • The onset of conduct disorder may occur as early as age 5 or 6, but more usually occurs in late childhood or early adolescence, learn more about the course of conduct disorder
  • Causes of Conduct Disorder
    • Read more about the various causes of conduct disorder, including, biological, family, genetic, neurological, parent related, and school factors.
  • Treatment of Conduct Disorder
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