What Does Problem Behavior Mean?
behaviors are those that arenât 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.
What Are the Symptoms of Problem Behavior?
Problem behavior can have many symptoms, including
but not limited to:
abuse of alcohol or drugsagitationangry, defiant behaviorscarelessnessdisinterest or withdrawal
from daily life drug use emotional flatness excessive, disruptive
talkinghoarding useless objects inappropriate behaviorinflated self-esteem or
overconfidenceobsessive thoughtspoor judgment property damage self-injury
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
What Causes Problem Behavior?
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 personâs behavior.
Common conditions related to problem behavior
include, but arenât limited to:
anxiety disorderattention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD)bipolar disorder conduct disorderdeliriumdementiadepressionobsessive-compulsive
disorder oppositional defiant
disorderpostpartum depressionpost-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD)psychosisschizophreniasubstance abuse
What Are the Risk Factors for Problem Behavior?
People with chronic and mental health conditions are
at greater risk for problem behavior than those who donât 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 disorderADHDmood disorderschizophreniasubstance abuse
However, people with problem behavior may also come from families with little
history of problem behavior.
When Do I Seek Medical Help for Problem Behavior?
Problem behavior can be a medical emergency when the behavior
includes the following:
contemplating suicide hallucinations or hearing voices harming oneself or othersthreats 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 behaviorcruelty to animalsengaging in intimidating, bullying, or impulsive
behaviors excessive feelings of isolation low interest in school or work social withdrawal
People with problem behavior may feel different from others,
like they donât fit in. Some may have emotions they donât understand or canât
identify. This can lead to frustration and more problem behavior.
How Is Problem Behavior Diagnosed?
A doctor or mental health specialist can evaluate
problem behaviors. Theyâll likely start by taking a health history and
listening to a description of an adult or childâs 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
person? Has the person recently experienced any life changes
or transitions that could trigger the behavior?
Doctors can use this information to pinpoint the behaviorâs
possible cause and diagnosis.
How Is Problem Behavior Treated?
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 classescounselinggroup therapymedicationsparenting skills classes