Conduct Disorder: Recognition and Management

Am Fam Physician. 2018 Nov 15;98(10):584-592.


Conduct disorder is a psychiatric syndrome that most commonly occurs in childhood and adolescence. It is characterized by symptoms of aggression toward people or animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness or theft, and serious violations of rules. Risk factors include male sex, maternal smoking during pregnancy, poverty in childhood, exposure to physical or sexual abuse or domestic violence, and parental substance use disorders or criminal behavior. At least three symptoms should have been present in the past 12 months, with at least one present in the past six months to diagnose conduct disorder. Interventions consist of treating comorbid conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; supporting clear, direct, and positive communication within the family; and encouraging the family and youth to connect with community resources. There are several evidence-based psychosocial interventions that a psychologist or therapist may implement as part of long-term treatment. Currently, no medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat conduct disorder. Treatment with psychostimulants is highly recommended for patients who have both attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and conduct problems. There is some evidence to support the treatment of conduct disorder and aggression with risperidone, but health care professionals should weigh the medication's potential benefits against its adverse metabolic effects.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy
  • Child
  • Conduct Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Conduct Disorder / therapy*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Risk Factors