The ability to control your impulses is something you may take for granted. If you have a loved one who has an impulse control disorder, you may have seen first-hand how disruptive this condition can be in their daily life. Impulse control disorders can make it difficult (or impossible) for a person to think before they act.

Impulse control disorders can lead someone to act on harmful or dangerous urges. Some specific impulse control disorders include compulsive gambling, eating disorders and compulsive hair-pulling (trichotillomania), among others.

Impulse Control Disorder FAQs

Are you interested in learning more about impulse control disorders? Are there specific questions you want to be answered? If so, browse the following frequently asked impulse control disorders questions.

Yes. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) includes a section dedicated to disruptive, impulse-control and conduct disorders. Clinicians and psychiatrists use the DSM-5 to diagnose mental illnesses.

Impulsive conditions listed in the disruptive, impulsive-control and conduct disorders section of the DSM-5 include:

  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Intermittent explosive disorder
  • Kleptomania
  • Pyromania

Mental health disorders affect neurological chemicals and the way brain cells communicate with one another. As a result, people with an impulse control disorder struggle to cope with compulsive behaviors that can harm themselves or others. Having an impulse control disorder also increases a person’s chance of developing another mental illness, such as anxiety or a substance use disorder.

Yes. Impulse control disorders are disabilities because they limit one or more of a person’s major life activities. Impulse-control problems can affect the way people function at home, work or school. It can also lead to social isolation and affect relationships.

Because impulse control disorders are listed in the DSM-5, people with these psychological problems may qualify for disability payments. According to the Social Security Administration, a person with an impulse-control disorder may be eligible to receive disability payments if they can provide medical documentation proving that they have experienced one or more of the following:

  • Recurrent, impulsive and aggressive behavioral outbursts
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • An excessive need to be taken care of
  • Disregard for the rights of others
  • Detachment from social relationships
  • Extreme distrust of others
  • Excessive attention-seeking and emotional behaviors
  • Preoccupation with perfectionism

Individuals with an impulse control disorder must also prove that they experience an extreme limitation to one or marked limitation to two or more of several areas of cognition. These areas include understanding, remembering or applying information; interacting with others; concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace; and adapting or managing oneself.