Aggression Effects, Signs & Symptoms

Understanding Aggression

Learn About Aggression

Aggression is broadly defined as a behavior or disposition that is forceful, hostile or attacking. This behavior may occur as a form of retaliation or may even occur without provocation. Aggression can take on a number of different forms such as verbal communication through yelling at another individual, or physically by engaging in some type of physical violence. Aggression can be direct behaviors such as hitting, kicking, biting, and pushing to name a few. Additionally, aggression can take on an indirect form like teasing, bullying, spreading rumors, name-calling, or ignoring someone.


Aggression Statistics

For some populations aggression is a common way of acting. The rates of maladaptive aggression in youth diagnosed with Conduct Disorder have been estimated at approximately 20%, with boys displaying significantly higher rates than girls. In older adults suffering from dementia rates of aggression have been estimated to be as high as 96%.

In Developmentally Delayed individuals, aggression is a frequent occurrence with rates of self-directed aggression estimated at 4% to 5%, destructive aggression against property estimated at 7%, towards the self (4-5%) and towards property (7%).  Over half all behaviors rated as problematic included components of aggression against self or others, while one-third included destruction of property.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Aggression

Genetic: While the exact mechanism through which this behavior is passed down in unknown, unless there is concordance for a specific disorder, it has been recognized that those with first degree relatives who have aggressive behavior problems are more likely to develop them than those without a similar family history.

The Brain-Behavior Connection – Aggressive behavior is elicited when anger- inciting experiences are encountered, and the frontal lobes process this information. The frontal lobes are associated with functions such as impulse controls, behavioral inhibition, reasoning and decision making. If there is frontal-lobe damage aggressive behavior may result.

Modeling – When children grow up in a home where aggression is a common expression of distress or impulsive reaction to misinterpretations, imagined slights or exaggerations of real circumstance they mimic this behavior pattern until it is internalized.

Other Disorders – In addition to the previously listed disorders, there are additional conditions which can lead to aggression including brain tumors and closed head injuries. Some of these disorders may include bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD.

Life Threatening Causes of Aggression – Since there are dangerous causes of aggression, any sudden behavior changes which include this symptoms should be evaluated immediately. Specific conditions include hypoglycemia acute delirium, mania, meningitis, stroke, alcohol or drug overdose or withdrawal or traumatic brain injury.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Aggression

Aggression may associated with other symptoms that are determined by the underlying disorder or illness. Ailments that influence behavior often also have psychological, cognitive, and physical symptoms. Some additional signs and symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Moodiness
  • Agitation
  • Disorientation or memory problems
  • Depression or flat affect
  • Trouble with concentration and attention
  • Trouble thinking in an organized manner,
  • Poor communication skills due to overt negative affect
  • Trouble with language comprehension, writing or reading
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Hyper-arousal or acute awareness of the environment
  • Personality fluctuations
  • Impaired judgment and decision making
  • Insomnia
  • Social withdrawal
  • Being a danger to yourself or others
  • Threatening behavior
  • Alterations in mental status
  • Confusion, disorientation, delirium, lethargy,
  • Trauma, such as bone deformity, burns, scar tissue, eye or ear damage and other injuries


Effects of Aggression

Aggression can be the result of numerous causes, some of them serious illnesses. Thus leaving aggression untreated can lead to serious complications and permanent physical, legal and psychological ramifications. Some of the potential complications those with serious aggressive tendencies are at risk for include:

  • Difficulties interacting appropriately at work, in school, and in social environments
  • Loss of a social network
  • Troubled parent-child relationship
  • School expulsion
  • Unemployment
  • Drug and alcohol use and abuse
  • Drug overdose or alcohol poisoning
  • Increased risk of injury
  • Law violations and legal troubles
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide or violence

At Lakeland we can help you discern what condition or disorder is beneath your aggressive symptoms. Once this has been determined we’ll work with you to create a treatment plan individualize for your particular difficulties and goals. Our compassionate and skilled staff will be there for you to assist you in identifying your own personal path the will lead you and those affected by your condition to a happier life.

Marks of Quality Care
  • Arkansas Juvenile Officers Association
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • Missouri Hospital Association
  • Missouri Juvenile Justice Association
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval
  • Tricare

My son's aggression disorder seemed to be getting worse every day. I was starting to lose hope when other treatment options were either not working or were just exacerbating the issue. That's when we found Lakeland, the only treatment option that helped my son learn better ways to express his emotions. I am thankful to the caring and patient staff at Lakeland!

– Colin S.

In response to the growing need for mental health services, we are expanding our older adult programming to include ages 40+