The entire group of impulse-control disorders have never been assessed in a large, population-based sample; therefore, the extent to which they form a cohesive group and to which they fit into an empirically supported structure of psychiatric disorders cannot be directly examined (Potenza, Koran & Pallanti, 2009).
Some impulse-control disorders, specifically intermittent explosive disorder and pathological gambling, share features with obsessive-compulsive disorder, suggesting that these disorders may be categorized together. However, available data suggests significant differences between the disorders. For example, outbursts in IED are unplanned and, unlike OCD, do not occur in response to an obsession (Potenza et al., 2009). Also, IED is more common in men than women by a 2:1 male-to-female ratio, whereas OCD is often found to be equally as common or slightly predominant in females (Potenza et al., 2009).
OCD is characterized by ego-dystonic behaviors while pathological gambling is characterized by ego-syntonic or hedonic behaviors (Potenza et al., 2009). The pleasure derived from gambling may diminish over time, which is similar to substance dependence (Potenza et al., 2009).