10 Oppositional Defiant Disorder Symptoms

By jolene
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Oppositional defiant disorder is categorized under “disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders” according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Those with oppositional defiant disorder should be differentiated from conduct disorder as they are not aggressive toward animals or humans, do not show a pattern of deceit or theft, and do not destroy property.

Oppositional defiant disorder has been estimated to occur in 1 to 11 percent of the general population. It is more common in boys before puberty but is equally common among boys and girls after puberty. Oppositional defiant disorder usually manifests by the age of 8. The risk factors of this disorder include neglectful or harsh parenting, high authoritarian parenting, and attention deficit hyperactive disorder. It is also associated with poor frustration tolerance, poor emotional regulation, and high levels of emotional reactivity. In some cases, oppositional defiant disorder can give way to conduct disorder, especially if this disorder is left untreated.

Treatment and management include the assessment of other disorders, parent management training, group therapy, and more. It is critical for parents to learn more effective parenting skills as it improves prognosis and helps parents to cope.

Symptom #1: Temper Tantrums

A temper tantrum can also be known as a hissy fit or meltdown. It is an emotional outburst most commonly seen in children and those who are emotionally distressed. During tantrums, there can be crying, screaming, stubbornness, defiance, ranting, violence, and resistance to pacification.

It is usually common in early childhood. However, it generally decreases in intensity and frequency as the child grows older. It is also often seen in those with attention deficit hyperactive disorder, autism, and intellectual disability. Individuals with oppositional defiant disorder also throw repeated temper tantrums.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Symptom #2: Touchy and Annoyed

When a person is touchy, it means that the person is oversensitive and easily offended. Annoyance is an uncomfortable mental state where the affected individual is irritated and distracted. It can sometimes lead to anger and frustration.

When a person is easily annoyed, he or she can also be known as irritable. In psychology, annoyance is highly subjective. Stimuli that causes annoyance can vary for every individual. Those with oppositional defiant disorder are often touchy and easily annoyed.

Symptom #3: Angry and Resentful

Anger is an intense emotional state where there is a strong hostile response to a threat or perceived provocation. An angry person will usually experience elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, and higher levels of noradrenaline and adrenaline. In some circumstances, anger can also be a protective mechanism to mask sadness, fear, or hurt.

Resentment is often a mix of disappointment and anger. It comprises three basic emotions: sadness, surprise, and disgust. Resentment can be triggered if an unpleasant experience is relived in the mind. Anger and resentment are both main characteristics often seen in individuals with oppositional defiant disorder.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Symptom #4: Moody and Frustrated

The term “moody” can be defined as a person who has unpredictable changes of mood. This is especially true when it is used to address those who have sudden bouts of sullenness or gloominess. Frustration is an emotional response related to annoyance, disappointment, and anger. It is likely to occur when there is resistance to one’s goal or will. It can be due to challenges in fulfillment of desires, goals, needs, or conflict.

Both are normal emotions that can affect any individual especially when they are facing difficulties in school, work, or with relationships. However, individuals with oppositional defiant disorder are often moody and frustrated.

Symptom #5: Arguments

An argument can be defined as a series of statements expressed to determine the truth or conclusion. Having an argumentative child can be exhausting. However, it is a part of normal child development. Arguing is common among 4 to 5-year-olds as they gain confidence in their communication skills and are focused on getting what they want. With younger children, it is important for parents to understand that while they may be able to argue, it does not mean that they can understand ideas and logic.

To deal with an argumentative child, parents can try to establish house rules, provide incentives (in some cases), use straightforward language instead of suggestions, and back off on trivial issues. However, children who are persistently argumentative should be evaluated as it is one of the traits seen among those with oppositional defiant disorder.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Symptom #6: Defiance

Defiance can be defined as bold disobedience, open resistance, contempt, open disregard, or behavior that one is unwilling to obey authority. One of the main characteristics of individuals with oppositional defiant disorder is their defiance toward those with authority. This includes teachers at school, parents, older siblings, and more.

Defiance among children is very common. Common examples include talking back and disobedience. It is a normal part of a child’s development. It is a way for them to test control and limits. However, in oppositional defiant disorder, the defiant behavior can persist to the point where it interferes with relationships and performance at school.

Symptom #7: Pointing Fingers

Pointing fingers or blaming others refers to the act of censuring, making negative statements, or holding another person responsible for an action that is wrong.

In psychology, blaming is a way to devalue others while the person who blames others ends up feeling superior. This individual often sees others as being less worthwhile while they are “perfect.” It may also be a way to avoid feelings of shame, guilt, or remorse. Individuals with oppositional defiant disorder often blame others for their misbehavior or mistakes.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Symptom #8: Upsetting Others

Patients with oppositional defiant disorders tend to behave in a way to upset others. This can include their peers or even adults. Mostly seen in children, this intentional behavior can cause many guardians and family members to feel overwhelmed as the affected child will be involved in problems at school and at home. They can also be nasty and unkind to their peers causing withdrawal of their peers.

Parents who think that their child may be suffering from oppositional defiant disorder should seek medical opinion or talk to the school counsellor to obtain a referral to the proper health professional.

Symptom #9: Spiteful and Vindictive

A person who is spiteful purposefully delivers words or performs actions in a way to hurt or annoy another individual. It can also be defined as actions that inflict a cost on another. Some researchers have reported that individuals with higher levels of spitefulness are also more likely to display psychopathy, narcissism, and aggression.

The term “vindictive” can be explained as having a strong desire for revenge. A vindictive individual can be said to be vengeful, grudge bearing, bitter, or more. Hallmarks or characteristics of patients with oppositional defiant disorder are spiteful or vindictive behavior.

Symptom #10: Low Self-Esteem

Self-esteem refers to an individual’s emotional evaluation of their own self-worth. It encompasses the beliefs they have about themselves. It can affect emotional states leading to feelings of pride, despair, shame, and so on. It consists of both positive and negative feelings an individual has regarding themselves.

Researchers have found that self-esteem can be used as a predictor for certain outcomes such as happiness, academic achievement, satisfaction in relationships or marriage, criminal behavior, and more. It has been thought that experiences throughout one’s life affects the development of self-esteem. Patients with oppositional defiant disorder have often been observed to have low self-esteem.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

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