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What Are the Treatments for Aggressive Behavior?

by
author image Lia Stannard
Lia Stannard has been writing about women’s health since 2006. She has her Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and is pursuing a doctorate in clinical health psychology.
What Are the Treatments for Aggressive Behavior?
Little boy pulling little girl's ponytail. Photo Credit pyotr021/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

The Society for Neuroscience states that aggression is a "complex social behavior" and can be divided into three categories: predatory aggression, social aggression and defensive aggression. A person with predatory or social aggression seeks out a target, while defensive aggression is a response. Aggressive behavior may be part of another condition, such as a mood or anxiety disorder, and needs to be treated to prevent an outburst of violence.

Behavioral Therapy

The National Fragile X Foundation states that a patient with aggressive behavior has poor impulse control. Behavioral therapy works by finding the cause of the aggressive behavior and then teaching the patient how to control the impulses that lead to these behaviors. This type of therapy also helps the patient identify the triggers of the aggression so that she can avoid them. The therapist may use role play to teach the patient the consequences of her behaviors, especially if the patient is a child.

Medication

Medication can reduce severity of the impulses, which can stop the aggressive behavior. The medications for aggression target neurotransmitters, such as gamma-aminobutyric acid, dopamine and serotonin. The Society of Neuroscience notes that risperidone, a medication used to treat schizophrenia, has been used to treat the aggressive behavior in juvenile conduct disorder. A patient with juvenile conduct disorder directs his aggression at people and animals with abuse and inanimate objects through vandalism. When given risperidone, patients with juvenile conduct disorder exhibit improved behavior after seven weeks.

Other Interventions

The National Fragile X Foundation adds that changing the patient's environment can help manage the aggressive behavior. For example, if the patient is in school, she can benefit from having a seat in the back of the room that is close to the door; therefore, if she has an outburst, she can excuse herself. A structured classroom setting that allows the patient to have breaks and additional processing time can help her manage her symptoms. Physical activity can be an outlet for the patient. Limiting noises, avoiding crowded areas and exposure to natural light can also decrease aggressive behavior.

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