If your child or teen is occasionally stubborn and argumentative, that’s perfectly normal. But frequent, persistent, and easily provoked anger and vindictiveness can be a sign of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). As a parent, it’s important to know about your options, from behavioral therapy to medication. You may also have some additional concerns or inquiries about this disorder. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about ODD.
FAQ About Oppositional Defiant Disorder
What Causes ODD?
There is no single understood cause of ODD, but there are many potential contributing factors. These may include biological, social, and psychological influences. Frequent diagnoses in families with a history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), substance abuse, and mood disorders suggest a genetic component. Exposure to community violence, social isolation, inconsistent discipline, and poverty also seem to increase instances of ODD.
How Is ODD Diagnosed?
Teens and kids believed to have ODD must be diagnosed by a mental health professional, who may suggest behavioral therapy and family intervention. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) sets the criteria for ODD. For diagnosis, a child must fit at least four symptoms from these categories: angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, and vindictiveness. Children who are often touchy, resentful, actively defiant, spiteful, deliberately annoying, and/or argumentative should be evaluated.
How Will ODD Affect My Child?
Those with a history of ODD tend to have social and emotional problems. Their antisocial behavior and volatile temper often lead to strenuous relationships with family, peers, teachers, and employers. They may have difficulties maintaining friendships. Children sometimes struggle in class, and severe cases might even include delinquency and school refusal. If they do not receive the proper intervention, symptoms may worsen, and children could eventually develop additional conditions such as anxiety, depression, or even antisocial personality disorder.
Are There Any Treatments?
While there is no single treatment for ODD, there are many individualized plans that may suit your child or teen. These options will depend on your child’s age, the severity of symptoms, and family circumstances. Family intervention and behavioral therapy are common treatments for young children, but medication may also be recommended later on. It’s important to note that family will play a critical role in the process. Individual behavioral therapy will be the primary focus, but it is often helpful for some sessions to include parents and siblings. Early intervention is key to improving the quality of life of children with ODD.
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