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How Common Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder Or Is It A Rare Problem?

The oppositional defiant disorder also shortly known as ODD is a psychiatric disorder classified in DSM 5 classification of mental illnesses and psychiatric disorders. As the name suggests it is a disorder in which the patient is having defiance or oppositional behavior towards the parents, elders and the known ones without any reason or for small reasons. They are argumentative and also show a vindictive attitude starting from a small age.

How Common Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder Or Is It A Rare Problem?

According to various studies and data collections, it is found that the prevalence ranges from 1 % to 16 % depending upon the geographical locations, quality of living, luxurious lifestyle, etc. The average prevalence of the disorder is near about 3.33 %. Data statistics show that oppositional defiant disorder is a pretty common disorder and the prevalence is also very high which also signifies that it is not a rare disorder not to be found commonly.(1) However, this disorder does not occur alone and it is commonly seen in association with other psychiatric disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. According to a data study done on the relation of ADHD with the oppositional defiant disorder, it was found that about 30 to 50% of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder patients are likely to get the oppositional defiant disorder in future which makes it a very strongly associated syndromic appearance of both psychiatric disorders.(2)

The most common age of development of the oppositional defiant disorder is preschool that is below the age of 8 years. But due to non-awareness about this disorder, it may not get detected at such an early age and can get till adolescence without diagnosis where it could present as in the form of various behavioral abnormalities and attitudinal discrepancies.

Talking about the gender distribution of the oppositional defiant disorder, before the age of 8 years the prevalence is more commonly found in the boys as compared to the girls the ratio of about 1.4,1.5: 1 but as soon as the adolescence approaches this ratio goes on declining and eventually gets equalized to 1: 1 in both boys and girls.(3) This equalization of the ratio is also attributed to an increase in the prevalence of the oppositional defiant disorder in the girls in some of the studies. The gender imbalance in the prevalence is seen specifically in the developed countries such as various Western countries where the lifestyle and the quality of living is high and children are having a variety of services at their disposal.

Higher marriage failure rates are also responsible for the same. Social and economic status also affects the prevalence with more cases at the presentation from the highest social-economic group of people rather than middle-class families. More than 70 % of the cases usually belong to the upper-middle class and upper-class families which may be due to more leniency by the parents and lesser hardships faced by the children during their earlier period of life.


The oppositional defiant disorder is a behavioral abnormality that is classified as a psychiatric disorder in the latest classification of psychiatry. In the 21st century, especially in the second decade, the prevalence has been upon rising for this disorder which is somewhat attributed to the quality of living, socio-economic development, availability of more resources to the children, etc.

According to the earlier data statistics, the prevalence is nearly 16 % which is about one-sixth of the total population below the age of 18 years. So, it is a pretty common disorder with high prevalence and exercising incidence for the same. Although there is no gender disproportionation for the oppositional defiant disorder in the early ages of presentation the disorder is more common in boys than girls.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 11, 2020

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