Conduct Disorder is a mental health problem in children and adolescents involving behavior patterns in which the basic rights of others and/or major age-appropriate norms or rules are violated.

Overview and Facts

What is Conduct Disorder?

Conduct Disorder (CD) involves a pattern of oppositional, defiant, and explosive behaviors as well as anti-social behaviors.

What Causes Conduct Disorder?

The exact causes of CD are not known. However, risk factors for CD include genetic problems affecting the brain, brain damage at an early age, having parents with depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol dependence, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Other risk factors include inconsistent parenting, parental or familial abuse, neglect, and negative peer influence.

What are the Symptoms of Conduct Disorder?

Symptoms include aggression and/or deliberate cruelty toward people and animals, arson and other forms of property destruction, sexual coercion, breaking and entering, shoplifting, and truancy. Sufferers may exhibit callousness, and a lack of remorse, empathy, or a sense of guilt.

How is Conduct Disorder Treated?

CD is often treated with long-term psychotherapy and/or behavior therapy that ideally includes the participation of family members and the child’s support network. Training for parents on how to encourage positive behaviors may also be included. CD is often accompanied by other conditions that respond well to medication.

What Else Should I Know about Conduct Disorder?

Other conditions that frequently occur in young people with conduct disorder include ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), certain learning disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorders, and substance use issues.