Rebelling against authority can be considered normal developmental behavior for adolescents. However, when it becomes an ongoing pattern of defiant, uncooperative, talking back, and hostile behavior toward parents, teachers, and other authority figures, and it interferes with a youth’s daily functioning, you may be dealing with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).
ODD is a mental health diagnosis described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in the chapter on disruptive, impulsive-control, and conduct disorders. To meet the criteria for an ODD diagnosis the youth must exhibit a pattern of angry/irritable mood, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least six months, including at least four of the following symptoms:
  • Frequently loses temper
  • Touchy or easily annoyed
  • Angry or resentful
  • Argues with authority figures
  • Defies/refuses to comply with rules
  • Purposefully annoys others
  • Blames own mistakes or inappropriate behavior on others
  • Spiteful or seeks revenge
The symptoms of ODD are more evenly distributed between emotional and behavioral problems than other disruptive or impulsive-control disorders, such as conduct disorder, although they can be co-occurring. Other co-occurring conditions may include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder), anxiety disorders, and learning disabilities.
Factors that may contribute to ODD include lack of structure, neglect, inconsistent or overly harsh discipline, a frequent change in caregivers, and exposure to domestic abuse or violence.
A comprehensive assessment by a licensed mental health professional is necessary to determine a diagnosis.


The content of this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to substitute for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed mental health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition.