Impulse Control Disorder Diagnosis

(Also Known As: Kleptomania Diagnosis, Trichotillomania Diagnosis, Impulsivity Diagnosis, Obsessive Compulsive Diagnosis, Pyromania Diagnosis, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Diagnosis, Monomanic Instinctives Diagnosis)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

How is Impulse Control Disorder Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of any of these disorders is done only after other medical and psychiatric conditions that causes the same symptoms have been entirely ruled out. Physicians usually provide questionnaires or psychiatric screeners as part of the differential diagnosis. Also, laboratory examinations particularly CSF analyses are utilized to further determine the condition. Two instruments have been developed to specifically target impulsive behaviors; they are the Gambling Urge Scale (GUS) and the Lifetime History of Impulsive Behaviors (LHIB) Interview. 19


DSM IV-TR criteria of kleptomania:

  • The individual is unsuccessful in resisting impulses to steal things that are not needed.
  • The individual experiences gratification, relief or pleasure when carrying out the theft.
  • The individual experiences a rise of tension immediately prior to the act of stealing.
  • The act is not an expression of anger or some other emotion nor is it the result of delusion.
  • The behavior is not due to another mental disorder such as conduct disorder, antisocial personality, or the manic phase of bi polar disorder. 20


DSM IV-TR criteria for Pyromania:

  • The inflicted individual has repeatedly set fire where there is no monetary gain, political expression, criminal concealment, expression of vengeance or anger, or impaired judgment (by reason of mental disorder, or other impairment)
  • The individual experiences a sense of arousal prior to setting the fire followed by a sense of pleasure, relief or gratification when watching or participating in the fire
  • The behavior is not due to antisocial personality disorder, a manic episode, or conduct disorder. 21

Compulsive Gambling Disorder /Pathological Gambling

Pathological gambling was classified as a psychiatric disorder during the 1980s publication of the DSM-III. The diagnosis of this condition requires that the behavior is not explained by a manic phase of bi polar disorder. Furthermore, the signs and symptoms must include at least five aspects of maladaptive behavior.

Aspects of Maladaptive Behavior:

  • a preoccupation with gambling
  • the need to gamble with increasing amounts of money to achieve the desired excitement
  • repeated unsuccessful efforts to control or stop gambling
  • gambling as a way to escape from problems
  • gambling to recoup losses
  • lying to conceal the extent of involvement in gambling
  • commission of illegal acts to finance gambling 22
  • jeopardizing or losing personal and vocational relationships due to gambling
  • reliance on others for money to pay off debts 23


DSM-IVR criteria for Trichotillomania:

  • Repeated pulling of one's hair resulting in noticeable hair loss.
  • Upsurge of tension before the hair-plucking
  • Sense of relief or reduction in tension when the hair is pulled
  • The condition may lead to considerable distress or impairment of the individual’s social and vocational functions.
  • The behavior is not due to an alternative mental or medical disorder. 24

Could You Have Impulse Control Disorder?

Impulse Control Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Intermittent Explosive Disorder – Extreme Expression of Anger, Impulsiveness, Uncontrolled Rage, Outbursts in Moods
Kleptomania – Compulsion to Steal, Hoarding, Collecting of Things Illegally, Shoplifting
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Intrusive Thoughts, Impulsiveness, Strong Inclination for Something, Compulsive Behavior
Pyromania – Uncontrolled Desire to Set Fire Due to Psychosis, Revenge of Monetary Gains, Euphoria