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Chronic Impulsivity: What is it?


Chronic Impulsivity: What is it?


Do you often find yourself in trouble because of an impulsive decision or action? This may not be something you want to ignore. If this kind of behavior is continually bringing about undesirable outcomes, be aware because it may be chronic impulsivity.


Chronic Impulsivity Isn’t Healthy

Spontaneity is a part of our lives; chronic impulsivity is not. People occasionally make spontaneous decisions regarding an array of what can arise. Spontaneity can be fun as a way of changing the predictability in your life. There are times when you may just want to loosen up and have fun. In fact, it can bring about positive results under certain circumstances and work positively for you.

There is, however, a thin line dividing spontaneity and impulsivity. If hasty decisions or actions rule your life, it is a different matter. While spontaneous decisions or responses could be necessary, even healthy, under certain circumstances, chronic impulsivity deserves attention.

If making your daily decisions is often characterized as impulsive – based on instinct, gut-feel, or a current mood – so long-term goals are compromised or so it is causing further distress or anxiety, pay attention. It could be more than spontaneity – it could be chronic impulsivity.


What is chronic impulsivity?

Impulsivity generally means “a tendency to act quickly, often without thinking or caring about the consequences.” According to Open Path Collective, chronic impulsivity “is a severe lack of self-regulation. This can take form as an inability to regulate immediate reactions or having trouble concentrating. When suffering from impulsiveness it is difficult to consider the consequences of your actions, as well as, the ability to complete routine tasks quietly, or refraining from interrupting conversations. Lack of self-control can also lead to impulsive spending or eating”.

Spontaneous or impulsive behavior is usually a result of a state of emotion or thought. Thus, it can be common among children who still have maturing brains. They may impulsively reach for hot food on the stove, throw things when they are angry, use crayons on every kind of surface, or let their temper flare, even in public. These childish behaviors are usually outgrown as their brains mature and their capacities to understand and appreciate the consequences of their responses, their actions, or behaviors improve.

As children grow older, they develop the skill of impulse control. This is called “self-control or self-regulation.” Therefore, teens and adults are expected to be less hasty in the actions they take. This is reflected in ways such as waiting in line or for their turn, thinking before doing something, and weighing the consequences before jumping into a new activity. In its extreme form, failure to exercise self-control or self-regulation can bring about more troubles and risks; and cannot be ignored.


The “Spur of the Moment” Risks

A person gripped with chronic impulsivity has difficulty with their feelings and behaviors. They have the tendency to be irrational and to base their decisions and actions purely on their overriding thoughts and feelings, usually without regard for what may happen or how it may affect them or others. A child may be inherently impulsive – dashing across a street, climbing over a fence, or playing with unsafe stuff, such as matches, or cleaning products. In time, these will change as their self-control is developed. Yet, this may not be true for everyone.

The tendency to be overly impulsive can persist beyond childhood, and past adolescence. The manifestations and the effects of poor self-control or self-regulation can be particularly difficult to curb when it is stemming from a behavioral or emotional condition. Chronically impulsive adolescents may “throw caution in the wind” to be accepted by the cliques they want to be a part of – ways of dressing or engaging in drinking or smoking, as examples.

If adults fail to develop their self-control, they can run the risk of inappropriate behaviors that can lead to unwanted consequences. They may impulsively utter unkind remarks, not complete tasks, or have difficulty paying attention. They may also disturb or physically hurt others to release their confusion or anger. These can damage relationships and bring about further troubles. Too many rash decisions can do this to you as well.


Behind Chronic Impulsivity

What causes chronic impulsivity? It is important to remember that such behavior isn’t healthy. It could be a symptom of a behavioral or emotional condition. There are several possible reasons why a person develops this condition. One common cause is “anxiety,” to be more specific, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which affect over 1 million people in the United States. These conditions can cause the affected to lose their abilities pertaining to logic and to act only according to their instincts.

Experts also say that it could be a symptom of ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, borderline personality, or the manic phase of the bipolar disorder. It can similarly be a symptom of any of the impulse-control disorders classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th revision (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

In addition, the condition may arise from poor modeling of appropriate behaviors or emotional management while growing up. This means that a child may have patterned their behaviors after an influential figure in their life, such as a parent with poor self-regulation or control. It may also be developed as a managing response or behavior to a traumatic experience.


The Telltale Symptoms

Chronic impulsivity can result in vulnerability to other harmful habits. “Retail therapy” or “shop till you drop” are sometimes used to humorously refer to shopping when feeling down. However, if a buying spree cannot be controlled or it is becoming an irresistible compulsion that is wreaking havoc on your finances and relationships, it may be time to examine the symptoms of chronic impulsivity.

Some of the symptoms to watch out for include recurrent boredom, carelessness, risky and disruptive behavior, impatience, and not weighing the consequences of your decisions or actions. Chronic impulsivity can result in the abuse of substances, anger, and difficulty in keeping satisfying relationships. It is also common for these symptoms to accompany depressive symptoms, low self-esteem, high levels of anxiety, general disinterest, and social isolation.

Take note, that hasty decisions may not necessarily bring about unwelcome results or disastrous outcomes all the time. At times, those actions or decisions can be necessary and productive. However, be aware that unexpected, positive consequences can reinforce impulsivity. One thing you can do to address your behavior issues – is to seek help from an experienced professional who can assess your symptoms.


Curb Your Impulsivity

Treatment can curb chronic impulsivity. There may not be a need for the use of behavioral medications. Therapy can provide the tools to help you cultivate self-control and modify your behavior, resulting in a better awareness of impulses and the development of more appropriate responses. Therapy can also assist you in unravelling the underlying cause of impulsivity, to resolve the issues arising from your hasty actions and decisions, and to further build healthier self-esteem.

You have the ability, along with the assistance of a therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Southern Pines, NC, you can curb your chronic impulsivity and the complications it brings with it. Your impulsivity and recklessness can be treated. You can cultivate the needed skills for reaching appropriate levels of self-control or self-regulation. The first step is to get your symptoms assessed by a trained professional to receive the proper therapy. Call Carolina Counseling Services – Southern Pines, NC, to book your first appointment.

Confidential / Private Sessions

Carolina Counseling Services – Southern Pines, NC contracts with Licensed professional counselors/therapists/psychologists who provide a friendly, caring, and relaxed atmosphere in the Southern Pines/Pinehurst/Aberdeen/Raeford area. These independently contracted therapists/counselors assist adult individuals, couples, families, and children with resolving issues and getting back to enjoying their lives. Whether you are non-military or military, the independently contracted therapists with Carolina Counseling Services – Southern Pines, NC are able and happy to assist you!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Southern Pines, NC

Counties: Moore county, NC, Lee County, NC, Montgomery County, NC, Richmond County, NC, Randolph County, NC, Chatham County, NC

Cities: Southern Pines NC, Pinehurst NC, Aberdeen NC, Taylortown NC, Pinebluff NC, West End NC, Seven Lakes NC, Eagle Springs NC, Ashley Heights NC, Ashmont NC, Five Points NC, Wind Blow NC, Jackson Springs NC, Whispering Pines NC, Vass NC, Cameron NC, Carthage NC, Eastwood NC, Lakeview NC, Narrow Ridge NC, Robbins NC, Roseland NC, Tramway NC, Troy NC, Zion Grove NC, Biscoe NC

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Carolina Counseling Services - Southern Pines, NC
780 NW Broad St. Suite 210
Southern Pines, NC 28387

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Choose your Therapist

  • Kristin Vernon, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Children, Adolescents, Couples, Families, Anxiety, Depression, Self-Esteem Issues, Grief and Loss, Communication Skills, Divorce, Adjustment Disorders, Mood Disorders, Coping Skills, Parenting, Family Conflict, Marital Conflict, Relationship Issues
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare, cash
    Location: Southern Pines, NC
  • Gretchen Montesanto, MA, LPC, NCC

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Teens, Individuals, Anxiety, Depression, Self-Esteem Issues, Grief and Loss, Stress, LGBT, Adjustment Disorder, Motivation, Life Transitions, Mood Disorders, Military Spouses

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Southern Pines, NC
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare and Cash
    Location: Southern Pines, NC
  • Jaime J. Fitzpatrick MS, LPCS, LCAS

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Adults, Families and Couples, Anxiety, PTSD, Trauma and Abuse Recovery, Depression, Military Life Issues, Adjustment Disorder, Relationship Issues, Marriage Counseling, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Trauma Focused Therapy, Addictions, Emotional Disturbance, Coping Skills, Impulsivity, Grief and Loss, Self-Esteem
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare and Cash

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Southern Pines, NC
  • Kelly ErkenBrack, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 3+) Children, Teens, Adults, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Loss, Mood Disorders, Trauma, Adjustments and Life Transitions, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting, Relationship Concerns, Self Esteem
    Insurance: BCBS, Medicare,  Tricare Prime/Select and Cash

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Pinehurst, NC and Southern Pines, NC
  • Kathryn Wiens, PsyD. HSP-P

    Specializes in: (Ages 18+) Adult, Individuals, Couples and Families.
    Insurance: BCBS, Medicare, Tricare Prime/Select, Cash, HSA and FSA accepted

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Pinehurst, NC and Southern Pines, NC
  • Tracy Goldberg, MSW, LCSW

    Specializes in: (Ages 5+) Individuals, Adolescents, Adults, Couples, Children and Families. Attention Deficit, Oppositional Defiance, Behavioral Issues, Peer Relationships, Family Conflict, Depression, Anxiety, Parenting Anxiety, ADHD, Self-Esteem Issues, Family Conflict/Divorce, Marriage Counseling, Adjustment Disorders, Relationship Issues, Grief and Loss, Communication Skills, Behavioral Issues, Coping Skills, Mood Disorders, Parent Skill Building, Christian Counseling upon request
    Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare, Cash, HRA and FSA accepted

    Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

    Location: Southern Pines, NC