Does Oppositional Defiant Disorder Usually Occur Alongside Other Disorders?

Re: "Does Oppositional Defiant Disorder usually occur alongside other disorders?"

The short answer is “yes, more often than not!” Many kids who are diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder also have other treatable mental health and learning conditions. Having more than one condition is called having a coexisting or comorbid condition. Some conditions that coexist with Oppositional Defiant Disorder are:
  • Language disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • ADHD
  • Mood disorders (e.g., depression, bipolar disorder)
  • Learning disorders

Research indicates that some kids develop the behavioral symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder as a way to manage anxiety or uncertainty. Anxiety disorders and mood disorders are similar to Oppositional Defiant Disorder in that they are often a response to uncertainty and an unstable home and school environment. These similarities make it more likely that Oppositional Defiant Disorder and anxiety disorder and a mood disorder will occur together.

Among all conditions that coexist with Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD is the most common. Both disorders share common symptoms of disruptive behaviors. However, kids and teens that have both Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD tend to be more aggressive, have more of the negative behavioral symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and perform less well in school than those who have Oppositional Defiant Disorder alone. These kids also tend to have more disruption in their families and with their relationships with authority figures than kids that do not have Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Researchers have found that Oppositional Defiant Disorder can be a precursor to Conduct Disorder. Conduct Disorder is a more serious behavioral disorder that can result in destructive antisocial behavior. While Oppositional Defiant Disorder behaviors may start in early preschool years, Conduct Disorder usually appears when kids are older. A youngster or teen who has ADHD as a coexisting condition also seems to be at increased risk of developing Conduct Disorder. In addition, studies show that having Conduct Disorder puts kids and teens at risk of developing a mood disorder or antisocial personality disorder later in life.

While having Oppositional Defiant Disorder and a coexisting condition puts a youngster at risk for developing other more serious mental health issues, treatments exist that can improve the symptoms of ADHD, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and learning and language disorders. Also, treating other mental health and learning conditions that occur along with Oppositional Defiant Disorder has been shown to decrease the behavioral symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Help for Parents with Oppositional Defiant Children and Teens

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