What Causes Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

There is no clear-cut cause of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. However, most experts believe that a combination of psychological, social and biological risk factors play a role in the development of the disorder.

Psychological Factors—
  • Difficulty or inability to form social relationships or process social cues
  • Neglectful or absent parent
  • Poor relationship with one or more parent

Social Factors—
  • Abuse
  • Chaotic environment
  • Family instability (such as divorce or frequent moves)
  • Inconsistent discipline
  • Lack of supervision
  • Neglect
  • Poverty
  • Uninvolved parents

Biological Factors—

Kids and teens are more susceptible to developing Oppositional Defiant Disorder if they have:
  • A brain-chemical imbalance
  • A mother who smoked during pregnancy
  • A parent who has a problem with drinking or substance abuse
  • A parent with a history of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or Conduct Disorder
  • A parent with a mood disorder (e.g., depression or bipolar disorder)
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Impairment in the part of the brain responsible for reasoning, judgment, and impulse control
  • Poor nutrition

Help for Parents with ODD Children and Teens

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