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Does Ritalin Help With Oppositional Defiant Disorder & Does Strattera Help?

Oppositional defiant disorder or ODD is characterized by a frequent pattern of inappropriate, passive, rebellious, and disobedient behaviors against authority figures. This behavior usually occurs before preschool, but at first, despite the problem, it is difficult to distinguish it from other behavioral disorders. Children who develop a stable pattern of opposing behaviors before school age may continue to experience oppositional defiant disorder in later years.(1)

Drug Treatment: Can Ritalin And Strattera Help?

Medicines are not necessarily the common treatment for oppositional defiance in children as they can also have side effects on health. However, in some cases, the doctor may consider antipsychotic treatment.

This happens especially if the child shows aggressive behavior or if there is a significant deterioration; even after other therapy attempts have been made to control the situation and there is a risk that the child can no longer stay in his family or at school.

Several studies have found that medications used to treat ADHD, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), atomoxetine (Strattera), and amphetamine or dextroamphetamine, can be effectively treated to oppositional defiant disorder as well. According to these studies, steroids reduce symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and attention deficit. Two small studies have shown that Clonidine is effective in treating ADHD patients and oppositional defiant disorder children as a single treatment or as a supplement to drug therapy. Studies have not shown that in the absence of ADHD, these steroids reduce the symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder.

Sometimes this condition can be accompanied by other behavior problems. Then the doctor can prescribe other types of medication. These include, for example, stimulants for ADHD, or antidepressants if the child is suffering from periods of depression and anxiety. The goal is to improve the child’s quality of life. But one should always take into account the side effects of the medication.

So, both the child and his family and friends must make great efforts. It takes a lot of patience and also a lot of love and affection. This type of mental disorder is a major burden for everyone involved. Everyone suffers from it and feels desperate. There is also a constant feeling of helplessness. But with the right treatment and a positive attitude, this disease can be overcome.(6)(7)

Primary Symptoms Of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

The symptoms of this behavioral disorder can be different. But often the children show aggressive behavior, outbursts of anger and negative attitudes.

The most common symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder in children are the following:

  • They have frequent and easy outbursts of anger.
  • They also constantly argue with the people around them.
  • They also refuse to follow the rules of the adult or they oppose the instructions.
  • It also happens that they deliberately annoy others. At the same time, they are easily irritable and can quickly be annoyed by others.
  • They often express themselves coldly and disrespectfully.
  • Besides, affected children tend to be vengeful and resentful.(2)

What To Do With Oppositional Defiant Behavior In Children?

The Right Diagnosis

First of all, a correct diagnosis is important as the symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder can also be confused with other behavioral disorders. So, if these symptoms occur repeatedly, you should go to the doctor to make a correct diagnosis. In this way, you can talk about how to proceed.

In most cases, it is the parents and the teachers who recognize this behavioral disorder in the children. However, a child psychiatrist or psychotherapist will need to examine the child and make a diagnosis based on their history and some specific tests.

Conventional Treatment For Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Psychological therapies are an important part of treating this condition in children. But parents and family should also be involved and support the treatment.

There are various possible approaches to the therapeutic level. First, the child can attend psychotherapy on an individual basis. Here, one often uses cognitive behavioral therapy. This is how you want to improve the child’s social and interpersonal skills and also to better control impulses and feelings.

Another thing is also important: the whole family, especially the parents, should be involved in the therapy. Family therapy can promote communication and lead to better conflict resolution. It also provides emotional and practical support for parents as they are often overwhelmed by the situation.

On the other hand, family therapy also tries to track down the causes of this disease and then find a solution. Nowadays it is assumed that the cause of this disorder is usually: Certain behavior patterns that the child learns from the caregivers in the first years of life. But other factors can also play a role. For example, a lack of discipline can have something to do with it, as well as abuse or traumatic and stressful experiences, and also lack of harmony in the family.(3)(4)(5)


  1. Vanzin L, Mauri V. Understanding Conduct Disorder and Oppositional-Defiant Disorder: A guide to symptoms, management and treatment. Routledge; 2019.
  2. Ghosh A, Ray A, Basu A. Oppositional defiant disorder: current insight. Psychology research and behavior management. 2017.
  3. Booker JA, Capriola-Hall NN, Dunsmore JC, Greene RW, Ollendick TH. Change in maternal stress for families in treatment for their children with oppositional defiant disorder. Journal of child and family studies. 2018;27(8):2552-2561.
  4. Jamali Z, Khodabakhshi-Koolaee A. The Effectiveness of Parenting Behavior Management Training Via Cell Phone on Mothers in Reducing Oppositional and Aggression Symptoms in Their Children With Oppositional Defiant Disorder: A Single Case Study. Journal of Arak University of Medical Sciences. 2019;22(4):134-145.
  5. Riley M, Ahmed S, Locke A. Common questions about oppositional defiant disorder. American family physician. 2016;93(7):586-591.
  6. Lockwood W. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). 2018.
  7. Lee S, Burns GL, Beauchaine TP, Becker SP. Bifactor latent structure of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)/oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) symptoms and first-order latent structure of sluggish cognitive tempo symptoms. Psychological Assessment. 2016;28(8):917.

Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 4, 2020

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