Learn About The Symptoms & Causes of ODD

Many individuals struggling with mental health disorders are often times dealing with ODD. Crestwyn offers treatment for ODD in a safe and healing environment.

Understanding ODD

Oppositional defiant disorder, which is often referred to as ODD, is an extremely disruptive mental health disorder that is characterized by a pattern of defiance, hostility, and disobedience to laws and authority figures. This disorder is often diagnosed in adolescence or childhood, but it also applies to adults. ODD typically causes an individual to create disruptions or conflict. These individuals might cause disturbances at work, school, online, or amongst loved ones.

Individuals who develop oppositional defiant disorder may experience strong destructive impulses. As a result, strained relationships, low self-esteem, and even legal struggles can develop. In some cases, these behaviors only occur in one location, such as at home. More serious cases tend to trigger conflict in a number of settings. Those who have this disorder might not be aware that their behaviors are problematic and often justify them as a response to circumstances, situations, or people.

These behaviors continue even when consequences are severe. Thankfully, there are specific treatment methods that can help both individuals and their loved ones work through this upsetting condition.


The majority of studies on oppositional defiant disorder have closely examined this disorder amongst children and adolescents, although it does impact adults. ODD is estimated to impact between 1% and 11% of the population. This disorder is only a bit more common in male children than in female children. In adults, this disorder impacts women and men equally.

Causes and Risk Factors for Oppositional Defiant Disorder

According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, experts have determined that both environmental and genetic factors can play a role in the development of oppositional defiant disorder.

Genetic: The American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that numerous genetic neurobiological markers have been identified as being directly and indirectly connected to a predisposition to developing oppositional defiant disorder. As is also the case with other mental health disorders, individuals who have family members with ODD or other forms of mental illness may be more likely to struggle with this condition.

Environmental: Disturbances within childhood are commonly linked to the development of ODD. Chaotic home life, family conflict or violence, and chronic stress all add to the development of oppositional defiant disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Chaotic home life
  • History of trauma, especially repeated trauma
  • Substance use among family members
  • Personal history of substance use
  • Experiences of abuse or neglect, particularly in childhood
  • Exposure to crime or violence in the community or at home
  • Male gender in younger individuals
  • Family history of mental illness

Signs and Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder might appear different amongst different age groups. Some symptoms are more likely to be shown in men as opposed to in women. Personality and life experience might also add to the way in which this illness develops. Some symptoms and signs that signify this disorder might include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Blaming others for unacceptable behavior
  • Seeking revenge for perceived slights
  • Engaging in arguments of any type, regardless of topic
  • Hostility or aggressiveness toward others
  • Emotionally or physically harming others
  • Refusal to complete tasks at work or school
  • Repeated family conflict or family violence
  • Defiance of rules or laws

Physical symptoms:

  • Injuries from fights or violence
  • Elevated heart rate or blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Stomachaches or headaches

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Lack of good judgment
  • Low ability to control sudden impulses
  • Lower tolerance for aggravation or frustration
  • Difficulty sustaining attention
  • Poor decision making ability

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Low self-worth or hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Negative outlook or attitude
  • Inability to overcome small annoyances
  • Agitation
  • Anger or fits of rage
  • Resentment or hostility towards others

Effects of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Without the appropriate treatment, oppositional defiant disorder can lead to a number of negative effects and outcomes within various areas of an individual’s life, and these effects may in turn lead to increasingly serious consequences as the individual gets older. The following are among the many potential consequences of untreated oppositional defiant disorder:

  • Relationship conflicts or relationship loss
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Divorce, family conflict, or separation
  • Rejection by colleagues or peers
  • Hopelessness and low self-esteem
  • Participation in illegal activities
  • Lowered work performance resulting in joblessness
  • Self-injuring or self-harming behaviors
  • Arrest or jail sentences
  • Social withdrawal and isolation

Co-Occurring Disorders

In some instances, adolescents and adults who battle with oppositional defiant disorder might also face additional mental health conditions. In other instances, the presence of oppositional defiant disorder might trigger other mental health concerns like depression. The following are among the most common co-occurring disorders:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Impulse control disorders
  • Language disorders
  • Intellectual developmental disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder

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