Behavioral disorder: causes, symptoms, and treatments
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Behavioral disorders are manifested by action or reaction, which does not correspond to the attitude that should be had. They can be expressed in different ways (by excess or by default) and concern different spheres: food, mood, and sex…

How are behavioral disorders defined?

Behavior can be defined as how to act or behave on a daily basis. It is therefore a very general term that does not have a “scientific” definition. “Behavioral disorders are related to social or cultural circumstances and attest to a psychological disorder,” explains Dr. Marion Zami, an addictologist doctor. They can result in agitation, aggressiveness, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia …), hyperactivity, addiction (alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, gambling, work, sex, screens …) or phobias “.

To be diagnosed as such, each of these abnormalities must result in a clinically significant impairment in social, academic, or occupational functioning. These disorders can manifest themselves at any time in life, from childhood to adulthood.

The different types of behavioral disorders

Eating disorders

Eating disorders (or ED) are materialized by disturbed behavior vis-à-vis eating. The two classic forms of these TCAs are bulimia and anorexia.

Bulimia is characterized by a sudden and uncontrollable need to eat very large amounts of food without being able to stop. “When people are constantly trying to maintain their weight, binge eating can be accompanied by vomiting. We will then speak of restrictive bulimia or vomiting bulimia, as opposed to hyperphagic bulimia where there is no compensatory mechanism, “says the doctor.

In the case of anorexic disorders (also called anorexia nervosa), people, usually between the ages of 14 and 17, are obsessed with the idea of gaining weight and impose on themselves a severe and lasting eating restriction behavior. “This disorder can last for several months or even years,” adds the specialist. Unlike people with bulimic disorders, anorexics regularly lose weight to the point of endangering their lives.

Periods of bulimia and anorexia can alternate in the same person. These disorders, often caused by a deep malaise, are managed by multidisciplinary teams within psychiatric services.

Mood disorders

Mood disorders (also called affective disorders or mood disorders) are mainly characterized by mood disturbance. A person with a mood disorder experiences negative emotions more intensely and for longer than most people. She has difficulty fulfilling her professional, family, and social obligations.

The most common forms of this disorder are:

  • Depression (or depressive disorder): A person with depression experiences negative emotions more intensely and for longer than most people. She has a harder time controlling her emotions and may feel that her life is limited to constant suffering. The person is in difficulty with his professional, family, and social commitments.

Hypomania: “it is a period of increased self-esteem, reduced sleep needs, flight of ideas, increased activity, and excessive engagement in harmful activities,” explains our interlocutor.

Bipolar disorders: “it is a chronic disease responsible for mood disorders, alternating phases of hypomania or even mania and depression”.

Sexual behavior disorders

Anxiety is a normal emotion but, in the case of anxiety disorders, can prevent you from living normally. “Anxiety about sexual performance or associated relationship issues, such as intimacy or rejection from the partner, can lead to sexual impairment and avoidance of sexuality,” says Dr. Zami.

Another sexual behavior disorder: is sexual addiction. “It is characterized by repeated sexual behaviors with loss of control, desire to interrupt them without success, and negative consequences for the person and his loved ones. The people concerned tend to be male, three to five men for one woman, of high educational level, mostly married,” she continues.

Paraphilias are also part of sexual behavior disorders. “They are characterized by sexually arousing imaginative fantasies, sexual impulses or behaviors occurring repeatedly and intensely, and involving inanimate objects, suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner, children or other non-consenting persons,” explains our interlocutor. The most common paraphilic disorders are pedophilia, voyeurism, exhibitionism, frotteurism, sexual masochism, sexual sadism, fetishism, transvestism.

Causes of behavioral problems

Behavioral disorders can be for some (bipolar disorders …) related to a strong family predisposition that results in a vulnerability of mood and an inability to regulate emotions. They can also result from an emotional shock (separation, exposure to violence, financial difficulties), head trauma, or be a symptom of another disease such as a febrile illness (malaria, sepsis), Alzheimer’s, or a brain tumor.

What diagnoses for behavioral disorders?

It is usually a child psychiatrist (in the case of a child) or a psychiatrist (in the case of adults) who will diagnose behavioral problems after a thorough assessment. “Beyond the symptoms, the specialist will also take into account the patient’s medical and family history and his environmental factors,” says Dr. Zami.

Treatment of behavioral disorders

Some medications may be helpful. In all cases, psychological or even psychiatric follow-up is necessary. Other techniques such as hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT), naturopathy, and meditation can bring relief.

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