Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychiatry


Causes of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or ODD, has no clear and absolute cause, although studies have been able to determine possible contributing factors that could eventually develop ODD within an individual. These factors include a combination of biological, social and physiological aspects that can affect an individual throughout the course of their life.

The biological factors include genetics, where ODD tends to develop in family lines containing a history of numerous disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), abuse of substance disorders, or depression and bipolar disorder. While it is not directly linked to hereditary traits, and children whose parents possess ODD are not guaranteed to inherit it, ODD poses a greater risk of being passed down if the family history is shown to have constant disorders.

Physiological factors occur in the section of the brain that holds the responsibility of reasoning out, providing sound judgment, and controlling impulses. Because of these, children may grow to be aggressive and have difficulty in distinguishing and discerning a situation accurately, such as misinterpreting a completely neutral situation for an aggressive one.

Social factors occur among relationships, whether it’s a relationship between the individual’s friends, schoolmates, workmates, family, or any part of the community. ODD can stem from an overall lack of structure in parental supervision, which will initiate ODD from a very young age or from the start of adolescence, or from discipline practices that are inconsistent, which may confuse the individual and spark violent reactions. Exposure to mistreatment, abuse, and violence in the community and public or social places are also identified as events that could cause ODD.

ODD that begins at a young age, specifically for very young children can improve given the right amount of time. Studies have shown that in approximately 67% of children who were diagnosed with ODD, the symptoms were able to resolve themselves within 3 years given the proper treatment and guidance. This is compared to 30% of children who were not able to overcome ODD, due to possibly lack of supervision and guidance, and developed conduct disorder instead.

In 10% of cases, children with ODD will develop a more lasting disorder concerning personality, such as anti-social personality disorder, anxiety, or mood swings later on in their lives.

This goes to show that it is vital to receive the proper support and guidance to ensure the causes of ODD are at least reduced to significantly lower the chances of developing ODD.



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