Monday, September 30, 2013

Behaviors That Characterize ODD May Be Developmentally Distinct, Study Suggests

When children exhibit specific emotions or behaviors characteristic of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) at one age, they are likely to do so at other stages of childhood as well, new research has found. The study was headed by Edward Barker, Ph.D., director of the Developmental Psychopathology Lab at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London. The results are published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

More than 6,000 children and their mothers participated in this longitudinal study. The children were evaluated for three emotions or behaviors that often characterize ODD—irritability, being headstrong, and being intentionally hurtful—at ages 8, 10, and 13. Youngsters who displayed one of the emotions or behaviors at one age were also likely to display the same emotion or behavior at another age.

Moreover, the three emotions or behaviors tended to be developmentally distinct from one another over the years studied. However, being headstrong at age 10 was associated with being irritable at age 13, suggesting that being headstrong might be driving some of the later irritability. The researchers also looked to see whether being irritable, headstrong, or intentionally hurtful at age 8, 10, or 13 predicted depression or conduct disorder at age 16. They found that irritability predicted depression and that being headstrong predicted conduct disorder. Being intentionally hurtful predicted neither.

The findings have clinical implications, the researchers believe. For instance, ODD  appears to be a complex psychiatric condition, and "clinicians treating ODD and service planners may do well to assess the three dimensions described here to predict and tailor the most appropriate treatment for each individual."

Information about the refinements that have been made to ODD in DSM-5 can be found in the Psychiatric News article "New DSM Chapter to Focus on Disorders of Self-Control." Also see "Psychiatric Disorders in Preschoolers: Continuity From Ages 3 to 6" in the American Journal of Psychiatry. 
(Image: Mandy Godbehear/


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