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Behavior problems affect the lives of millions of men and women around the world. Less studied than anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, and mood disorders and lower in profile than addictions to drugs or alcohol, behavior problems can nonetheless throw an individual’s life into chaos. Characterized by an inability to control impulses and compulsive actions related to a specific behavior like gambling, sex, shopping, and certain tics, behavior problems can range from mildly disruptive to severely dysfunctional. The more difficult it is to function in life without stress and anxiety related to a behavior problem, the more important it is that psychiatric and medical help is sought to treat the issue. If you or someone you love is suffering from a behavioral or mental health disorders, don’t wait to get the help you need. Contact us at the number listed above for more information about behavioral disorders and to learn which types of treatment are most effective and appropriate for your experience.
What Is a Behavior Problem?
According to a study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry 2001 Nov;158(11):1783-93, the impulsivity issue that drives most behavior problems is uncontrollable, an unplanned reaction to environmental or internal or mental stimuli. Even though negative consequences may result from this behavior, the patient continues to engage – even to the point of great stress and unhappiness. Many patients want more than anything to be able to control the behavior that is destroying their ability to interact with others, maintain employment, leave the house or get anywhere on time, or maintain their finances. Unlike addiction that is defined by the creation of negative consequences that make no impression on the patient, most patients living with behavior problems want help for the problem. According to a study published in 2002 in The American Journal of Psychiatry, 2002 Oct;159(10):1642-52, a number of the disorders that are classified as behavior problems or behavioral disorders are more technically considered impulse-control disorders (ICDs). However, the lack of impulse control is a key to a number of different types of disorders, including drug addiction issues, personality disorders, and social disorders. This means that the many people diagnosed with behavioral problems also struggle with other mental health issues. When this is the case, it is even more important to seek professional treatment that can address the complex integration of symptoms most effectively. The American Psychiatric Association says that the compulsive behaviors that define behavioral problems like gambling addiction, shopping addiction, sex addiction, hoarding and other issues are performed by the patient primarily with the goal of relieving stress or tension. Only in some cases do patients experience a “high” or gratification of any kind – though they may seek that feeling. In most cases, the need to perform a “tic” behavior or a compulsive behavior is done purely to dispel the pent-up distress or frustration that cumulates from not indulging in the behavior for a period of time.
A Spectrum of Disorders
A study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, 1992 Mar;149(3):318-27, reports that the disorders that are classified as behavior problems or impulse control disorders all vary in their intensity and effect. The more obsessive the patient is about his or her particular behavior, the closer they are to the high end of the spectrum; the less dysfunctional their experience in life due to their compulsivity issues, the lower on the spectrum. Though some behavior problems are more common among men than women and vice versa, there are a number of other similarities across this classification of mental disorders that may be more or less prevalent in different patients. These include:
- Similar age of onset of behavior (usually during the teen and early adult years)
- Existence of co-occurring issues with substance abuse, anxiety, depression and other mental health problems
- Family history or experience with a family member who also exhibits compulsive behavior issues
- Similar response to treatment (i.e., patients who have long-term outpatient care with ongoing check-ins, follow-ups, and adjustments to medication will have the best rate of success in recovery)
- Inability to stop the behavior despite the desire to change and attempts to stop
- Interference of the behavior in everyday life that creates a discord or dysfunction
A study published in Psychological Reports 1999 Feb;84(1):107-13 says that the more obsessively a patient pursues a behavior, the less pleasure they gain from indulging in that behavior. According to the study, the experience of pleasure defines the disorder as egosyntonic; when a patient experiences only relief of tension through pursuing a specific behavior, the disorder is defined as egodystonic. Those who seek pleasure from their behaviors have an increased chance of self-destructive results due to the sensory-seeking activities while those who are more obsessive in their behavior and in search of tension relief are higher on the scale of harm-avoidance. This definition further aids medical professionals in placing the patient on the spectrum of disorders and creating an appropriate treatment plan for them. Some studies, like one published in Addiction 2006 Sep;101 Suppl 1:142-51, hypothesize that behavior problems could be categorized as addictive disorders even when no substance abuse is present. Some mental health professionals address the issues of eating disorders, sex addiction, shopping or spending addiction, hoarding and OCD as “behavioral addictions” and apply similar treatment techniques, including medication when appropriate and psychotherapy.
What Are the Most Common Types of Behavior Problems?
There are more than 100 behavioral disorders that are notated and studied but the most common behavior problems found in United States treatment centers include:
Eating Disorders: Eating disorder treatment helps men and women of all ages overcome potentially life-threatening conditions such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders.
Gambling addiction treatment is becoming more and more common in an economy thrown into upheaval – males with a family to support and an income below the mean are one of the highest populations at risk to develop problem gambling or a gambling addiction, according to a report on gambling published by the California Research Bureau. Once unrecognized as a disease, gambling addiction is now treated efficiently and effectively at addiction treatment centers across the country.
OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder): OCD treatment has helped countless individuals cope in their daily lives with this potentially debilitating condition that can impede relationships, professional success and daily quality of life.
The issue of hoarding has received more attention in the media of late and one beneficial result of that attention has been an increased recognition of the need for treatment of this debilitating disease. In addition to causing physical and mental discomfort, hoarding can be a harbinger of OCD and other mental health issues.
When Does a Behavior Problem Require Treatment?
According to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (NHHS), a behavior problem becomes an issue that requires mental health treatment when it begins to cause distress in the patient’s everyday life. When the patient is unable to function in social relationships, in the workplace, at school, or privately, the behavior has become disruptive to the point that it requires medical care and attention. In fact, there are a number of different responsibilities that will cause stress for the patient struggling with a behavior problem that requires treatment. These include everything from the mundane to the significant like the following on the right: The specific areas affected by a behavior disorder will depend upon the patient, their particular behavior, and the severity of their experience, as well as the existence of other mental health disorders including substance abuse and addiction.
- Grocery shopping
- Paying bills
- Returning phone calls
- Participating actively in a dialogue
- Telling the truth
- Following through on promises to family members and friends
- Prioritizing the needs or desires of others
- Maintaining work and school responsibilities
Treatment for Behavior Problems
Mental health treatment programs can be extremely effective for those struggling with behavior problems. According to the NHHS, about 70 to 90 percent of those who undergo a comprehensive treatment program that includes medication and psychosocial treatments will experience a significant reduction in behavioral symptoms. The goal is independence and freedom from the debilitating nature of behavior problems. This is a work in progress and one that is accomplished through regular treatment sessions and constant monitoring by a medical team that can address the different impacts and symptoms of each patient’s behavioral problem. Managing the illness by developing strategies and coping mechanisms will help the patient to monitor his or her achievements in recovery and gain confidence in moving forward in treatment and recovery. As with all mental health and addiction disorders, the earlier that the issue is identified and treatment is begun, the higher the rate of success and the more likely that the patient will get to a place of functionality in his or her life and mitigate the harm done by the disorder.
Different Styles of Treatment Programs
Patients who seek professional help for their behavior problems have a number of different treatment options at their disposal. Some of the following types of treatment programs available to provide help for mental and behavior disorders include:
Inpatient behavior problem treatment. These residential behavior rehab programs take the individual out of their potentially negative environment and provide them with a safe place to receive care and round-the-clock support and treatment. Outpatient behavior problem treatment. For those who want/need to maintain a presence at home, work or school during treatment, outpatient care allows the individual to attend therapy only during the day. Holistic treatment for behavior problems. Incorporating yoga, meditation, acupuncture and other Eastern practices into treatment, holistic behavior problem care treats the psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects of the disease as well as the physical issues.
Behavior problem treatment for women. Repeated studies have found that women develop certain behavior problems for reasons that are different than men. Gender-specific behavior problem treatment focuses on these issues while providing a safe, women-only environment in which to heal – a characteristic of care that can be extremely helpful when women are healing from personally sensitive trauma, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health.
Teen behavior problem treatment. Young people are a different stage developmentally than adults and, as a result, will deal with different issues related to behavioral and mental disorders. Teen treatment programs address youth-specific factors such as peer pressure, issues in the home and self-image problems, and do so by employing specialists trained to understand the different brain chemistry and emotional development of teens.
Paying for Behavior Rehab Centers
Some residential behavior treatment programs can cost tens of thousands of dollars per month to attend. Even outpatient care (which costs significantly less) may be out of reach for many families. To help, there are insurance companies that offer coverage for programs dealing with addictive or compulsive behaviors. If the individual has insurance for behavior problem treatment, it can allow them to get the help they need from the professionals trained in the medical and psychotherapeutic treatment of mental health issues. Also, many treatment centers are now offering private financing options to help individuals spread out payment for care until they are on better footing financially.
Find a Program That Will Work for You
If you are ready to start the process of recovery and leave the symptoms of behavior problems behind, contact us at the phone number above. We can provide you with a range of options for care and match you to the treatment program that will best address your personal issues with gambling addiction, OCD, shopping addiction, sex addiction, hoarding and other behavior problems. Call now for more information.