Behavior disorders involve a pattern of aggressive or disruptive actions that last longer than six months, and the behavior is also typically age appropriate. Teenagers and adolescents usually will act out due to stress or changes in their school or family dynamic. Changing schools, bullying, a divorce, a new sibling, a family move, abuse or family conflicts can cause behavior disorders which can result in truancy, trouble with the law, substance abuse and mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Teenagers and adolescents are still developing mature coping skills and often engage in risky behaviors partly because the specific area of the brain that is responsible for executive learning and decision making is not yet fully developed. Other factors that can cause behavior disorders include malnutrition, genetics, and brain damage.

Common behavioral disorders

Behavior disorders can be broken down into anxiety disorders, disruptive behavioral disorders, dissociative disorders, pervasive development disorders, and emotional disorders. Common examples include the following:

  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD): An ongoing pattern of uncooperative, rebellious, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that seriously interferes with the individual’s daily.
  • ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental condition of inattention and distractibility, with or without accompanying hyperactivity.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive, unwanted thoughts known as obsessions that are relieved through repetitive acts known as compulsions. This relatively common disorder results in significant distress and impairment in one’s social, personal and professional life and is known as ego-dystonic meaning the individual realizes these thoughts are abnormal and unpleasant.
  • Conduct disorder: Usually occurs when the oppositional defiant disorder is left untreated. The child will most likely begin to violate more strict rules like running away from home or skipping school. Their pattern of misbehavior will usually progress to more aggressive behavior toward people and or animals. Once the individual turns 18, this disorder is known as an antisocial personality disorder.

Warning signs of behavioral or emotional disorder could include:

  • Drastic changes in behavior or personality
  • Easily getting annoyed or nervous
  • Often appearing angry
  • Blaming others
  • Having difficulty in handling frustration
  • Frequent tantrums and outbursts
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Intensive worries or fears that impede daily activities
  • Harming or threatening to hurt themselves, other people or pets
  • Damaging or destroying property
  • Lying or stealing
  • Not doing well in school, skipping classes
  • Early smoking, drinking, drug use or sexual activity
  • Consistent hostility toward authority figures
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Changes in appetite
  • Neglecting personal hygiene and appearance