Conduct disorder occurs in children and teens, most commonly boys. Problems may involve defiant or impulsive behavior, drug use, or criminal activity. Conduct disorder is often linked to attention-deficit disorder and can be an early sign of depression or bipolar disorder.

Children with conduct disorder tend to be impulsive, hard to control, and not concerned about the feelings of other people. They often make no effort to hide their aggressive behaviors and may have a hard time making real friends.

It is hard to know how common CD is, because many of the qualities for diagnosis, such as defiance and rule breaking, are hard to define. For a diagnosis of conduct disorder, the behavior must be much more extreme than is socially acceptable. Healthcare providers review children’s history to put behavioral symptoms into perspective and assess their behavioral and emotional functioning skills in different settings.

Structured interviews and formal tests of intellectual functioning and academic skills are all part of the diagnostic process. Testing measures aggressive behavior, anxiety, depression, attention problems, delinquent behavior, social problems, somatic complaints, thought problems, and social withdrawal.