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Disruptive Behavior Disorders

Disruptive Behavior Disorders are often diagnosed during early childhood and associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. This article defines disruptive behavior disorders such as ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), and conduct disorders. Get information on treatment of these disorders as well.

What Is a Disruptive Behavior Disorder?

Disruptive Behavior Disorder is a technical term that refers to a specific portion of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision, abbreviated as DSM-IV-TR. The section is a subset of the Disorders Usually First Diagnosed in Infancy, Childhood, or Adolescence, with the subcategory name of Attention-Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders.

The diagnoses that are left in this category when the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is excluded are:

  • Conduct Disorder—which may occur with childhood onset, adolescent onset, or unspecified onset
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Disruptive Behavior Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified)

It is reported that the Disruptive Behavior Disorders occur in between 4% and 9% of children, making them the most frequently found psychiatric disorder of children. It is found 3 to 4 times more often in children with an IQ that is below average than in those children who have a normal IQ. It is not unusual to find it coexisting with other disorders, including ADHD, mood disorders (such as depression), and substance abuse. In fact, estimates suggest that about 2/3 of children with ADHD will have a comorbid Disruptive Behavior Disorder diagnosis.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

The DSM-IV-TR characterizes the child with ODD as negative, hostile, and defiant more than is expected for his or her age and over a period of at least 6 months. At least four behaviors from a list of 8 must be present. These include being annoying or being annoyed, losing his/her temper, arguing with adults and resisting their requests or rules, blaming others, showing anger, resentfulness, spite, or vindictiveness. Oppositional Defiant Disorder is characterized as involving less aggression or violence than is found in Conduct Disorder.

Conduct Disorder

The DSM-IV-TR characterizes the child with Conduct Disorder as violating norms, rules, and the rights of others in a persistent and repetitive way, with 3 of 4 criteria evident over 12 months and at least 1 in the past 6 months, those criteria being: aggression towards people and animals, property destruction, theft or deception, and serious rule-breaking.

The ICD-10 does not have a category called "Disruptive Behavior Disorder," but it does have subcategories of Conduct Disorder that refer to problems that are restricted entirely or almost entirely to the family situation (i.e., the child's behavior outside the home—at school, for instance—does not show the characteristics of Conduct Disorder) and to a social form in which the characteristic behavior occur in a group of peers who act out together.

Both these Disruptive Behavior Disorders cause impaired functioning in the educational, occupational, and/or social realm, and for a diagnosis, the behaviors must not be limited to times during which a mood disorder or psychotic disorder is present.

Treatment of Disruptive Behavior Disorders

Treatment will depend on the age of the child and whether there are comorbid issues. Treatments may include medication and therapy and may often involve family members as well.



Related Article: Behavior Modification >>

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