Oppositional Defiant Disorder – ODD

What is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is defined by a frequent and persistent pattern of anger, irritability, arguing, defiance or vindictiveness; aggressiveness and a tendency to purposefully bother and irritate others.

To be diagnosed as ODD, a person must display a pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior lasting at least six months.

ODD in Children and Teens

Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

According to the respected Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) there are several emotional and behavioral symptoms that, when exhibited for at last at least six months, indicated Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).

Angry and irritable mood:

  • Often and easily loses temper
  • Is frequently touchy and easily annoyed by others
  • Is often angry and resentful

Argumentative and defiant behavior:

  • Often argues with people in authority
  • Often actively defies or refuses to comply with requests or rules
  • Often deliberately annoys or upsets people
  • Often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior


  • Is often spiteful or vindictive
  • Has shown spiteful or vindictive behavior at least twice in the past six months

Symptoms of ODD in Children and Teens

Causes of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

No single cause of ODD has been identified. It is believed that a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors may contribute to the condition.
Causes of ODD in Children and Teens

Biological Causes of ODD

Injuries or defects in certain areas of the brain can lead to serious behavioral problems in children according to some studies. Abnormal functioning of neurotransmitters has also been associated with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Many children with ODD also have other mental illnesses, such as ADHD, Learning Disorders, Depression, or an Anxiety Disorder.

Genetic Causes of ODD

Many children and adolescents with Oppositional Defiant Disorder have close family members with mental illnesses, including Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and Personality Disorders; suggesting a susceptibility to develop ODD may be inherited.

Environmental Causes of ODD

A dysfunctional family life, a family history of mental illness or substance abuse, and inconsistent discipline by parents may contribute to the development of behavior disorders.

Treatment for Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Treatment for ODD involves individual and family therapy.

Treatment of ODD in Children and Teens

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

A talk therapy focused on modifying negative thoughts, behaviors, and emotional responses associated with psychological distress.

Family Therapy

Psychological counseling that helps families resolve conflicts and communicate more effectively.

If someone you care for experiences symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), consult a mental health professional for an assessment.

Strategies for Parents of Children with ODD