If a person suspects that he or she or a loved one is suffering from oppositional-challenge disorder, it is important to remember that the condition is treatable and seek the help of a professional as soon as possible.
WHAT IS OPPOSITIONAL CHALLENGE DISORDER?
If your child or teen has a persistent pattern of tantrums, is constantly arguing with someone, and exhibits angry or disruptive behavior towards you and other authority figures, he or she may be suffering from a diagnosable oppositional-challenge disorder.
Oppositional behavior is normal at certain stages of a child's development; thus one should rather look at a pattern of behavior. Generally, signs of this problem can be observed before the age of 8. Symptoms may develop a little later in some cases, but this almost always happens before the early teens. Initially, the symptoms develop gradually and then worsen over the next few months or years. Professionals sometimes find it difficult to exclude other conditions, e.g. attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is often the case that these two conditions are diagnosed together.
Treatment involves individual therapy, family therapy to help build positive family interaction, and possibly medication.
CAUSES OF OPPOSITIONAL CHALLENGE DISORDER
Causes of this disorder may include a combination of hereditary and environmental factors, e.g. a child's natural disposition, limiting or developmental delays in a child's ability to process thoughts and feelings, lack of supervision, erratic or excessive discipline, abuse or neglect, or an imbalance in certain brain chemicals. It is sometimes difficult to recognize the difference between a "naughty" or emotionally disturbed child, and one with an oppositional-challenge disorder.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF OPPOSITIONAL CHALLENGE DISORDER?
The following symptoms are indicative, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – 5), which is widely accepted as the most authoritative source worldwide. Please note Please note that an official diagnosis may only be made by a qualified person.
A pattern of behavior that lasts for at least six months and includes at least four of the following:
- Repeated mood eruptions.
- Argues often with adults.
- Defiance or refusal to comply with adult requests or rules.
- Often frustrate people on purpose.
- Blame others for their mistakes or misconduct.
- Is lost or easily irritated by others.
- Is often angry and resentful.
- Is often willful or vengeful.
To be further diagnosed with oppositional-challenge disorder, the child's behavior must:
- causing significant problems at school, work or home
- occur independently, rather than as part of the course of another mental health problem, e.g. depression
TREATMENT OF OPPOSITIONAL CHALLENGE DISORDER
- Can treatment change my child's or teen's behavior?
Yes, there are good results with some forms of psychotherapy and family therapy.
- Who should I talk to to get the treatment you need?
A psychologist who is specialized and trained to work therapeutically with children.
- Will my child need to take medication?
Not necessarily. However, some medications do help with related symptoms, such as depression.
- What role can a parent play in the treatment of this disorder?
Parents are usually part of the treatment and management, especially through the process of family therapy.
What are a parent's options with therapy for children? What happens in therapy, and how can it benefit the child and parents? With the increasing number of children experiencing anxiety and depression, this episode is a MUST.