There's no sure way to prevent antisocial personality disorder from developing in those at risk. Trying to identify those most at risk, such as children living with neglect or abuse, and offering early intervention may help. Getting appropriate treatment early, and sticking with it for the long term, may prevent symptoms from worsening.

Because antisocial behavior is thought to have its roots in childhood, parents, teachers and pediatricians may be able to spot early warning signs. While diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder generally isn't done before age 18, children at risk may have symptoms of conduct disorder, especially behavior that involves violence or aggression toward others, such as:

  • Bullying
  • Conflict with peers, family members and authority figures
  • Stealing
  • Cruelty to people and animals
  • Fire starting and vandalism
  • Use of weapons
  • Sexual assault
  • Repeated lying
  • Problem behaviors in school and poor academic performance
  • Gang involvement
  • Running away from home

Early, effective and appropriate discipline, lessons in behavioral skills, family therapy, and psychotherapy may help reduce the chance that at-risk children go on to become adults with antisocial personality disorder.

Apr. 12, 2013