behaviors are those that aren’t considered typically acceptable. Nearly everyone
can have a moment of disruptive behavior or an error in judgment. However,
problem behavior is a consistent pattern.
behaviors can vary in terms of severity. They can occur in children as well as in
adults. People with problem behaviors often require medical intervention to
improve their symptoms.
Problem behavior can have many symptoms, including
but not limited to:
- abuse of alcohol or drugs
- angry, defiant behaviors
- disinterest or withdrawal
from daily life
- drug use
- emotional flatness
- excessive, disruptive
- hoarding useless objects
- inappropriate behavior
- inflated self-esteem or
- obsessive thoughts
- poor judgment
- property damage
Problem behavior can range from the absence of
emotions to aggressive emotions.
to the Merck Manual, behavior problems often
show themselves in different ways among girls and boys. For example, boys with
problem behavior may fight, steal, or deface property. Girls with problem
behavior may lie or run away from home. Both are at greater risk for drug and alcohol
There are multiple causes associated with problem
behavior. A psychiatric, mental health, or medical professional should evaluate
a person with problem behavior to determine the cause.
Causes of problem behavior can be a life event or
family situation. A person might have a family conflict, struggle with poverty,
feel anxious, or have had a death in the family. Aging can also lead to
dementia, which affects a person’s behavior.
Common conditions related to problem behavior
include, but aren’t limited to:
- anxiety disorder
- attention deficit hyperactivity
- bipolar disorder
- conduct disorder
- oppositional defiant
- postpartum depression
- post-traumatic stress
- substance abuse
People with chronic and mental health conditions are
at greater risk for problem behavior than those who don’t have these conditions.
Some problem behaviors have a genetic link.
According to the Merck Manual, parents with the following
problem behaviors are more likely to have children with problem behavior
- anti-social disorder
- mood disorder
- substance abuse
However, people with problem behavior may also come from families with little
history of problem behavior.
Problem behavior can be a medical emergency when the behavior
includes the following:
- contemplating suicide
- hallucinations or hearing voices
- harming oneself or others
- threats of violence
Make an appointment with your doctor if you or a loved one
experience the following symptoms:
- behavior that affects the ability to function in
relationships with others, in the workplace, or at school
- criminal behavior
- cruelty to animals
- engaging in intimidating, bullying, or impulsive
- excessive feelings of isolation
- low interest in school or work
- social withdrawal
People with problem behavior may feel different from others,
like they don’t fit in. Some may have emotions they don’t understand or can’t
identify. This can lead to frustration and more problem behavior.
A doctor or mental health specialist can evaluate
problem behaviors. They’ll likely start by taking a health history and
listening to a description of an adult or child’s symptoms. Some questions a
doctor may ask include:
- When did this behavior start?
- How long does the behavior last?
- How has the behavior affected those around the
- Has the person recently experienced any life changes
or transitions that could trigger the behavior?
Doctors can use this information to pinpoint the behavior’s
possible cause and diagnosis.
Doctors treat problem behavior by diagnosing its
causes. People who are at risk for harming themselves may require an inpatient
stay at a hospital for their personal safety.
Additional treatments for problem behavior can
- conflict resolution classes
- group therapy
- parenting skills classes