Most of us can be a little impulsive from time to time. It’s healthy to be spontaneous and carefree – being consistently rigid and super-calculating takes a lot of energy and can leave you feeling like life should be more fun. But for some people, acting without thinking, and the inability to control impulses can be problematic and may lead to serious consequences if left unchecked. Impulsivity can be a symptom of a mental health disorder, personality disorder, or an impulse control disorder on its own. Impulsivity is often paired with other diagnoses such as ADD/ADHD in both children and adults and sometimes in older adults who are experiencing dementia or other cognitive impairments.
Symptoms and signs of impulsivity
- Hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD)
- Difficulty paying attention
- Inability to concentrate on details
- Inability to be still
- Trouble performing quiet activities
- Consistent impatience
- Engaging in risky or dangerous behaviours
- Lack of planning
- Inability to predict the consequence of actions
Common impulse control disorders include:
- Kleptomania (the compulsion to steal)
- Pyromania (the compulsion to start fires)
- Intermittent explosive disorder (expressing rage in explosive bursts that are not in proportion to the situation)
- Problem gambling
- Trichotillomania (the overwhelming impulse to pull out all of the hairs on your body and scalp)
When is it time to get help?
If you feel that you (or your child) is struggling with impulse control because it is affecting their work, school, relationships, personal physical or mental health, seeking support would be a logical thing to do. Impulsivity can be a symptom of another disorder so it’s best to investigate the cause so treatment can be started.
Impulsivity treatment methods
Together with your therapist, you’ll determine what’s causing impulsivity and the best way to treat the cause. Your treatment plan could also include medication, so a visit with your medical doctor may be in order. There are many psychotherapy treatments that have been helpful in treating impulsivity, and they include:
- Behavioural Therapy tends to view human beings and behaviour with the assumption that humans are a product of their sociocultural conditioning and environment, looking at the current problems and the factors influencing them and emphasizes behaviour changes more than the underlying unconscious processes.
- Emotionally Focused Therapy is based on observations and experience. It looks at emotions and emotional intelligence, which helps support stronger and more secure relationships by helping better understand how our actions impact others, and how our emotions drive our interaction.
- Mindfulness Therapy is an approach to treatment that focuses on how people’s thoughts, emotions, and beliefs influence their behaviour and how they perceive themselves, others, and the world. The ability to be in the moment, to acknowledge and regulate your emotions helps you to break free from negative thought patterns.
- Solution Focused Therapy views people as inherently strong and resilient, and capable of creating change and discovering solutions to their everyday problem.
What will I get out of treatment with Insight Psychological?
Your impulses don’t have to control you. It is possible to find a way to deal with causes of impulsivity, mental health disorders, and impulsivity disorders. Talking with a therapist will help you to engage in an effective treatment that can help you to live a life fulfilled. Insight has many therapists that can support you on this journey. You can book online or call us to set up an appointment for counselling – in-person, online (video), or telephone.