Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Another mental-health experience found in kids that can mimic bipolar symptoms is oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). It is estimated that as many as one-third to one-half of children with ADHD also experience ODD. ODD can also be marked by symptoms easily confused with those of bipolar disorder, such as defiance, stubbornness, extreme temper, and arguing with or refusing to obey adults or authority figures (which could be interpreted as grandiosity). This mental-health experience can occur more in boys than girls but may occur equally in both sexes after puberty. Like the other disorders discussed in this chapter, the symptoms must impair the child's daily routines and functioning ability at home or school in order to qualify for a diagnosis of ODD.

The clinical criteria for ODD include a persistent trend of hostile, pessimistic, and defiant behavior, lasting at least six months, during which four or more of the following behaviors are observed:

  • Losing of temper

  • Arguing with adults

  • Refusing to follow rules or comply with adults’ requests

  • Doing things to deliberately agitate others

  • Blaming others for acting out or for accidents and mistakes

  • Being easily annoyed by others

  • Regularly resentful and angry

  • Spiteful or vengeful

One way to try determining if your child experiences bipolar or ODD is that in ODD the behaviors should not occur during the time he is experiencing a mood disorder.


Much of the technical information presented here about mental-health symptoms is adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Remember: the DSM is a clinical document; it is not intended to be family friendly. If the idea of researching your child's symptoms in the DSM makes you feel uneasy, you may access the same or similar information through many of the family-friendly Internet Web sites listed at the back of this book.

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  3. Bipolar Mimics
  4. Oppositional Defiant Disorder
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