[Impulsivity and externalization and internalization problems in adolescents.].


OBJECTIVES: The multidimensional aspect of the concept of impulsivity is proven by the composite structure of the rating scales of impulsivity. Several studies have already found correlations between trait-impulsivity and externalizing disorders. However, the studies interested in the relationship between trait-impulsivity and internalizing problems are rare. We have tried to explore correlations between impulsivity and externalization and internalization problems, in a population of adolescent outpatients. METHODS: We recruited 31 adolescent out-patients in the child and adolescent psychiatry department in the University Hospital of Monastir, Tunisia. The Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS) was used to evaluate a multidimensional concept of trait-impulsivity, including the dimensions of ‘Motor’, ‘Non-planning’ and ‘Attentional’ impulsivities. The Strength and Difficulties Scales (SDQ) was used to assess different domains of externalizing and internalizing problems, including ‘Emotional symptoms’, ‘Conduct problems’, ‘Hyperactivity’ and ‘Peer problems’. RESULTS: The sex-ratio was 1.21. The mean age was 15.19+/-1.27 years. All patients but one were attending school. The diagnosis was ‘Major Depressive Episode’ in 32 % and ‘Behavior Disorder’ in 38 %. The means of the scores of externalizing and internalizing problems were 9.35+/-4.41 and 9.65+/-3.26, respectively. The total score of the BIS was significantly related to both scores of externalizing and internalizing problems. The ‘Motor’ impulsivity was specially correlated with the externalizing dimension of the SDQ. The non-planning impulsivity was correlated with both scores of externalizing and internalizing problems, but it was mainly related to internalizing problems. The attentional impulsivity was also correlated with both dimensions of externalizing and internalizing problems. CONCLUSION: The dimensions of trait-impulsivity were correlated with various dimensions of the SDQ concerning externalizing and internalizing problems. That confirms the hypothesis that the impulsiveness is associated with wide domains of the psychopathology of the teenager which are not limited to behavior disorders. We can process these problems by influencing the ‘Motor impulsivity’ and ‘Non-planning impulsivity’. The cognitive and behavioral therapy and the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor may be efficient.