What Are the Signs and Symptoms of ODD?

What’s the first thing you think of when you see ODD? “Odd” in all caps, right? What’s odd about Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is how often it’s confused with other mental health conditions. However, even though some of its symptoms overlap with those of other disorders, ODD is its own unique psychiatric diagnosis.

What is ODD?

One of the first words most children learn is “no.” Resisting authority seems to be ingrained in our DNA. Occasional disobedience and talking back to parents is, to a certain extent, normal for kids. However, when these argumentative or challenging behaviors persists over time, a child might be exhibiting the symptoms of ODD.

As defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) (5th Edition), ODD is “a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness.” People displaying aggressive behaviors for at least 6 months may be exhibiting symptoms of ODD. Some sources estimate that 5% of all children may have ODD.

Symptoms of ODD

• Frequent outbursts/loss of temper
• Excessive arguing with adults
Blaming others for their mistakes
• Easily annoyed by others
• Instigating conflict with others
• Ignoring, questioning or resisting established rules
• Saying mean or spiteful things when upset
• Swearing or using obscene language

Other symptoms may include: anxiety, depression, negativity, low self-esteem, learning and conduct disorders and drug or alcohol abuse.


Since both diagnoses share several the same symptoms (i.e. impulsivity), many medical practitioners have linked ADHD with ODD. Further blurring the lines between the two diagnoses is that an estimated 40 – 65 percent of children with ADHD also develop ODD. It has also been theorized that ODD is a way for kids with ADHD to cope with their emotional and psychological symptoms.

Do Children Outgrow It?

The good news is that roughly half of all preschoolers with ODD outgrow the problem by age 8. The bad news is that while some children with ODD will outgrow certain aspects of the diagnosis, defiance and other negative behaviors may persist into the teen years and even into adulthood. The reality for those struggling with ODD is that some aggressive behaviors may go away with time while others may be lifelong.

Further Complications

Children and teens with ODD may have problems at home, school or work. Those with ODD may also struggle to make and keep friends. ODD can lead to further complications, such as:

• Antisocial behavior
• Poor school/work performance
• Impulse control problems
• Substance abuse

Though there’s no guaranteed method to cure the symptoms of ODD, proper parenting techniques and early prevention can help to improve the situation. If you’re struggling with how to handle a family member with ODD, here are some practical strategies that can help:

Stay Positive

Positive reinforcement is an effective way to treat a child with ODD. Rather than constantly indicating a child’s mistakes, seek out opportunities to acknowledge their good behaviors. Be sure to explain why their actions deserve recognition.

Give Rewards

Show enthusiasm when praising a child for their good behavior. Reward positive conduct and use non-verbal gestures (high fives, hugs) to encourage your child. Always celebrate the little victories.

Don’t Yell

When dealing with a defiant child, it’s important not to fight fire with fire by yelling at them, which will only escalate the conflict. Always exercise self-control and, if needed, take a break from the argument to allow yourself enough time to cool down. Remember that overcontrolling parents breed oppositional behavior in kids. Instead of trying to correct every problem you see, which may create resistance and negative reinforcement, learn to pick your battles.

Be Consistent

Even though kids instinctively find new ways to push the boundaries, always be consistent. Make sure your children know what behaviors are (and aren’t) acceptable and that the rules are fair and uniform for all your kids. Establish clear goals and stick to them.

The Traditional Way of Treating ODD

In the field of psychiatry, the default method is to treat ODD with medications. If that fails to correct ODD symptoms, behavioral modification techniques may be considered. If an ODD child still struggles past these steps, it may be recommended that the child see a family therapist trained in childhood behavioral problems. More extreme measures may include group therapy by a medical staff and hospitalization.

The Natural Way of Treating ODD

The best way to heal the brain is the natural way. At Amen Clinics, we look for the least harmful, most effective way of healing the brain, which typically means treating patients naturally (supplements, nutrition, lifestyle recommendations) rather than with high-powered psychiatric medications.

If you or a loved one is suffering from any of the symptoms associated with ODD, our method of integrative psychiatric support can help. Using innovative and personalized care, our outcomes consistently demonstrate improvement for patients—including many who have tried and failed prior treatment.

Our Full Evaluation of your biological/psychological/social/spiritual history, coupled with two brain SPECT imaging scans (in concentrating and resting states), cognitive testing, and clinical assessment is designed to address your unique needs and offer targeted treatment options.

If you would like to learn more about how brain imaging can provide customized solutions for your needs, call us today at 888-288-9834 or visit us online to schedule a visit.

The post What Are the Signs and Symptoms of ODD? appeared first on Amen Clinics.

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