For treatment to be successful, the child's family needs to be closely involved. Parents can learn techniques to help manage their child's problem behavior.
In cases of abuse, the child may need to be removed from the family and placed in a less chaotic home. Treatment with medications or talk therapy may be used for depression and attention-deficit disorder, which commonly occur with conduct disorder.
Many "behavioral modification" schools, "wilderness programs," and "boot camps" are sold to parents as solutions for conduct disorder. These programs may use a form of "attack therapy" or "confrontation," which can actually be harmful. There is no research to support these techniques. Research suggests that treating children at home, along with their families, is more effective.
If you are considering an inpatient program, be sure to check it out thoroughly. Serious injuries and deaths have occurred with some programs. They are not regulated in many states.
Children who have severe or frequent symptoms tend to have the poorest outlook. Expectations are also worse for those who have other illnesses, such as mood and drug abuse disorders.
Children with conduct disorder may go on to develop personality disorders as adults, particularly antisocial personality disorder. As their behaviors worsen, these individuals may also develop drug and legal problems.
Depression and bipolar disorder may develop in adolescence and early adulthood. Suicide and violence toward others are also possible complications of this disorder.
See your health care provider if your child:
Early treatment may help.
Nurcombe B. Oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. In: Ebert MH, Loosen PT, Nurcombe B, Leckman JF, eds. Current Diagnosis & Treatment Psychiatry. 2nd ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill; 2008:chap 36.
Thomas CR. Evidence-based practice for conduct disorder symptoms. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2006;45:109-114.
Whittinger NS. Clinical precursors of adolescent conduct disorder in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2007;46:179-187.
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