What Are the Causes of Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Just like any other personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder is a long lasting condition. People suffering from antisocial personality disorder have difficulties socializing with other people and having a relationship with others. They may even take part in criminal activities, not feeling sorry or guilty for their acts. They can be impulsive and don’t care for the rights of others. But, what are the causes of the condition?

What Are the Causes of Antisocial Personality Disorder?

It is believed that various factors contribute to antisocial personality disorder. But having one or more risk factors does not mean that someone has an antisocial personality disorder.

1. Brain Anatomy

The frontal lobe of the brain is the area that is in charge of planning and judging. It appears to be different among people with antisocial personality disorder. Some researchers have also discovered different brain structures which mediate a violent behavior. People with this brain anatomy might have a difficult time restraining their impulses, leading them toward being aggressive and even antisocial.

2. Influences from the Environment

Environmental influences such as influences coming from the family and friends play a significant role in the development of an antisocial personality disorder.

  • This disorder is more likely to develop in cases when the community or family is not supportive to their positive behavior.
  • Children who grow up in disturbed homes may be emotionally damaged during their childhood. This makes it difficult for them to create strong connections to other people, family, friends, partner, etc. Usually, these children raised in disturbed homes are indifferent to others surrounding them.
  • Child abuse is also linked to antisocial personality disorder. Children living in foster homes or even those being adopted are more likely to develop antisocial personality disorder.

3. Genetic or Biological Factors

Genetic factors count as causes of antisocial personality disorder, as this disorder tends to run in the families. People with this disorder also seem to react less to stress than normal people. They also have trouble maintaining daytime arousal than normal people.

What Are the Symptoms of Antisocial Personality Disorder?

Characteristic signs and symptoms of antisocial personality disorder are:

  • Failure to plan ahead
  • Impulsivity
  • Constant and repeated lying
  • Disregard for right or wrong
  • Being disrespectful to others
  • Manipulating others
  • Being arrogant
  • Being violent
  • Being aggressive
  • Being abusive, especially in a relationship
  • Being irresponsible
  • Not caring about negative consequences resulting from their behavior and acts
  • Not being empathic, etc.

People with an antisocial personality disorder also tend to seriously violate rules, destruct the property or even perform theft and other criminal acts. The signs and symptoms of antisocial personality disorder usually start to appear before the age of 15 years old. Even though this personality disorder is considered as a lifelong disorder, certain symptoms may decrease over time.

When to Seek Medical Help

People with antisocial personality disorder tend to seek medical help only when their family members and loved ones urge it. Seeking immediate help from a mental health professional is recommended to find the causes of antisocial personality disorder and the treatments.

How Is Antisocial Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

Diagnosing a mental disorder is not easy as it is not a physical illness. When diagnosing antisocial personality disorder, your doctor will base the diagnosis on the signs and symptoms of the personality and the individual behaviors. These behaviors should be monitored carefully. Various questionnaires can help the psychologist or psychiatrist go deep into the patient's mind and determine whether the symptoms and behavior of the patient match those of antisocial personality disorder.

Blood tests in order to determine an abuse with alcohol, drugs and other chemicals are necessary.

The diagnosis is determined only in cases when the patient matches the criteria of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. These criteria include:

  • Being over the age of 18 years old
  • Being aggressive
  • Being impulsive
  • Being antisocial
  • Engaging in assaults
  • Engaging in risky acts
  • Fighting with others
  • Having no consideration of the safety of others, etc.

How to Treat Antisocial Personality Disorder

The real causes of antisocial personality disorder are not known. Therefore, there is no cure for antisocial personality disorder even though the treatment can help the affected person have normal behavior and lead a normal life. The treatment is unique for every patient, depending on the person’s specific circumstances.

  • Group psychotherapy or family psychotherapy can be helpful in younger people in order to teach them new skills and vocations.
  • Psychotherapy can teach a person with antisocial personality disorder to become more sensitive and care for others surrounding him/her.
  • Cognitive therapy tends to change sociopathic ways of thinking.
  • Behavioral therapy through using punishment and rewards tends to teach and promote good behavior.

In certain cases, medications can help treat people with antisocial personality disorders. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) medications can help manage the irritability and aggressiveness. SSRI medications are also helpful in cases of depression or anxiety. Treatment for antisocial personality disorder is more likely to be successful if it is started early on.

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