In her book, Head Case: Treat yourself to Better Mental Health, (Headline Publishing Group) Dr. Pamela Stephenson Connolly defines the behavior patterns of people with impulse-control disorders. She says that sufferers feel almost uncontrollable urges to do certain things that give them temporary relief and enjoyment. These feelings are usually short-lived and are soon replaced by remorse, guilt, shame and despair.
Kleptomania is the urge to steal. The person often shoplifts items that they don’t need and never use. After the theft, the pleasure of success is soon replaced with guilt and remorse.
People with kleptomania often live highly stressful lives and may suffer from mood and anxiety disorders as well. If caught, they are likely to end up in jail and this causes immense shame and embarrassment.
People who suffer from pyromania have a profound interest in fire and struggle to control the urge to start one. They often come from a background of a violent and disturbed childhood.
The fires are normally lit for pleasure and relief of fire-setting urges. They are not lit for vengeance, money or to hide evidence of a criminal act.
There are three phases to gambling: victory, loss and despair. People with gambling disorder get caught in a cycle they cannot escape from and constantly convince themselves that they will recover their losses.
Compulsive gamblers often end up bankrupt and may resort to fraud or theft to finance their addiction. Lying to families is common and great shame and embarrassment normally result when they are finally caught out.
This is a chronic impulse-control disorder where sufferers pull out their hair on a regular basis. This behavior eventually results in noticeable hair loss and embarrassment and shame.
Sufferers often stop partaking in once-enjoyed activities such as swimming and dancing in the fear that their secret hair pulling habit will be revealed.
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This impulse-control disorder manifests as adults having violent temper tantrums. These are frightening to witness and the level of anger is normally way out of proportion to the trigger. During an outburst the person may destroy property and cause physical harm to those around them. Intermittent explosive disorder is often the cause of domestic violence and road rage.
Many impulse-control disorders are associated with other conditions such as bipolar disorder, mood and anxiety disorders, substance abuse and personality disorders. If people can overcome the fear and shame of admitting their problems, there is help available. Treatment is normally a combination of medication, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
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