Man on a cliff in need of mental health treatment

Feeling Impulsive? It Could be Your Mental Health

Feeling Impulsive? It Could Be Your Mental Health

Most of us can remember a time in our lives when we behaved impulsively and faced the consequences as a result. But what happens when impulsive behavior becomes excessive? For many, impulsive behaviors are a symptom of an unmanaged mental health disorder. 


Isolated incidents of impulsivity happen to everyone. However, impulsive behavior that is regular and intense tends to lead to negative consequences. They may include anything from damaged relationships to arrest and incarceration. Impulsive behavior includes picking fights, promiscuity (especially with strangers) and chronic drug or alcohol use. 


Watching someone who you love hurt themselves usually leaves you feeling powerless and afraid for their safety. So, what can you do to help someone who seems to be living at the mercy of their impulses? 


When is Treatment Needed?

There are some parallels between pathological impulsive behavior and substance use disorders. The most noteworthy may be that the person experiencing them seems unable to correct the behavior even in the face of serious consequences. Some of the conditions which feature impulse behavior as a symptom include:

  • Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Substance Use Disorders


Your son, daughter, nephew or husband with mental illness can live a happy, healthy life. So can you. A professional diagnosis and following an appropriate treatment plan is a great start. If you or someone you know exhibits these behaviors, it can be helpful to focus on getting mental health help rather than on the symptoms and behaviors themselves. Directing your attention toward the solution and working to stay positive really helps. 


Alcohol and Mental Health 

Alcohol use must feature prominently in any discussion of harmful impulse behaviors. Research has demonstrated that males are far more likely to engage in risky impulse behaviors after heavy drinking. There is a reason why barroom brawls have become a familiar trope in storytelling after all. But the connection between alcohol and mental health goes beyond isolated stories about a wild night in college. 

Alcohol is shown to increase the frequency and severity of high-risk behaviors. It is not unusual for someone with an alcohol use disorder to also need mental health treatment. Drugs, alcohol and mental health difficulties combined can make life challenging. To accurately diagnose an underlying mental health issue, it’s best if the drugs and alcohol are out of the picture. 


Understanding Impulsivity and Mental Health

Impulsive behavior can seem to come from nowhere. Often people who act impulsively are just as astonished by their own behavior as anyone else. But the truth is every behavior begins somewhere. Even if you don’t notice the stimulus or the thoughts preceding an impulsive action, there is a cause. 

Successfully managing impulsivity begins with learning to recognize your triggers. Increasing awareness helps give you an opportunity to counteract impulsive thoughts. It’s usually easier said than done, of course. Impulsive behavior, by its nature, is difficult to predict or prevent but not impossible. It is, of course, far more manageable with professional help. 

Millions of people have learned to manage impulsive behaviors with mental health treatment. You don’t have to go it alone. You do not have to live with the consequences of an untreated mental health disorder. All it takes is a bit of willingness to get help for yourself or that person you love who is living with impulse control issues.


There are numerous ways to help someone with a mental health disorder live a happy and productive life. If you or someone you love is troubled by impulsive behavior and you want to know more about what mental health treatment can do for you, give us a call at (844) 675-1022

Scroll to Top