Impulse Control Disorder Treatments

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

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What Kinds of Impulse Control Disorder Treatments are Available?

Intermittent Explosive Disorders

The most excellent approach to yield the best chance of success is a combined pharmacological and psychotherapeutic methodology. Using psychotherapy with these patients may prove arduous due to their constant angry outbursts. Group psychotherapy may also be helpful as well as family therapy, most particularly if the explosive individual is an adolescent or a young adult. Administrations of anticonvulsants such as lithium, carbamazepine, valproate and phenytoin have been reported effective in generally reducing aggressive behavior. On the other hand, benzodiazepine is occasionally used, but has been noted to produce an inconsistent reaction in some cases.

The use of antipsychotics such as phenothiazine and serotonin-dopamine antagonist, and tricyclic drugs have been said to be efficient in some cases. In conditions where there is a probability of subcortical seizurelike activity, medications used to lower seizure threshold can aggravate the situation. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), trazodone and buspirone are useful in reducing the impulsivity and aggression. Also, proven efficiency of propanolol and other beta adrenergic receptor antagonists and calcium channel inhibitors are helpful in some cases of this condition.


Because of the rarity of this condition, the approach for treatment depends on individual case descriptions. Psychotherapeutic and psychoanalytic approaches were successful depending on patients’ motivation and will. Insight-oriented psychotherapy may be of great help to patients who feel guilty and ashamed. It is also relatively easier to treat them because of their increased motivation to change their behavior. For patients lacking the motivation, behavior therapy in forms of systematic desensitization, aversive conditioning, and combination of both aversive conditioning and altered social contingencies is highly recommended. Another effective method is medication through intake of fluoxetine and fluvoxamine. Tricyclic drugs, trazodone, lithium, valproate naltrexone and electroconvulsive therapy were likewise proven as effective treatments. Pyromania

Treatment of pyromania patients has been difficult due to their lack of motivation. Today, no single treatment has been reported to be most efficient thus, the behavioral approach is the one preferred. Close patient supervision is required in the process of treating the disorder since pyromania has a recurrent nature. Confinement is sometimes inevitable for the prevention of recurrence. In cases of pyromania in children, intensive interventions should be undertaken if needed, but only as therapeutic and preventive measures and not a form of punishment. Moreover, treatment of this condition in both cases of children and adolescents should always involve family therapy.

Compulsive Gambling Disorder /Pathological Gambling

It is very seldom that gamblers come voluntarily to be treated for this disease. It is only when problems emerges that they will start seeking medical attention. Support groups also prove helpful in improving one’s thinking towards gambling. In some cases, hospitalization may help remove patients from their usual environments. Insight psychotherapy should not be recommended until patients have stopped gambling for at least 3 months. Family therapy is also helpful as well as cognitive-behavioral therapy. Success of treatment through various therapies have been high, on the other hand, treatment via means of pharmacotherapy does not completely share the same results. Studies showed that fluvoxamine intake caused 7 out of 10 patients to abstain from their gambling urges. Also, lithium and clomipramine were reported successful. However, these outcomes need further research and strong evidence to back their claim as effective treatments.


Treatment of this psychodermatological disorder requires the joint endeavor of both psychiatrists and dermatologists. Medications such as topical steroids and hydroxyzine hydrochloride are the ones usually used. Whether the afflicted individual suffers from depression or not, antidepressant drugs may lead to dermatological improvement. Drugs that alter central serotonin turnover, however, are proven one of the most effective. Behavioral treatments such as biofeedback, self-monitoring, covert desensitization, and habit reversal have been reported successful. 25

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