What are disruptive behavior disorders?

Disruptive behavior disorders (DBD) make people experience defiant behavior. Children with these disorders may be disobedient. They can also become hostile toward people in their lives. This is especially true towards authority figures. Kids with DBDs may also act out in violent ways. 

Children with DBDs act out on a consistent, regular basis. They may defy rules and show aggression to parents or teachers. They might bully or fight with other kids. There are two common types of DBDs: oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder.


Causes of DBDs

Doctors and researchers believe there isn't one single, clear cause of DBDs. It may be that a combination of factors can cause a child to develop a DBD. A child's environment may play a role. They might also be born with physical characteristics that cause them to have a DBD.

Risk factors for DBDs

Doctors still don't know the causes of DBDs. There are risk factors that make some kids more likely to have one of the disorders. These include: 

  • Childhood trauma: A child who's had a traumatic experience may act out. Trauma might include separation from parents, abuse or neglect.
  • Existing psychological condition: Children with conditions like ADHD, depression or anxiety disorders have a higher risk.
  • Physical conditions: Low birth weight and brain injury are known risk factors for DBDs.
  • Heredity: A child with parents who have DBDs is more likely to develop them.

Symptoms of DBDs

Oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder share similar symptoms. These include: 

  • Anger
  • Bullying
  • Vindictiveness
  • Loss of temper
  • Argumentative
  • Abusing others
  • Lack of remorse
  • Intimidates people
  • Antisocial behavior
  • Destruction of property
  • Revenge-seeking behavior
  • No regard for others' feelings
  • Aggression toward people or animals

The difference between oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder is sometimes confusing. One of the main differences focuses on control. A child with oppositional defiant disorder may fight control of a parent or teacher. A child with conduct disorder might not only fight against control. They may also try to control others. 

Diagnosis of DBDs

If you suspect your child has a DBD, it's important to get help. Your child's pediatrician can refer you to a child psychologist. This professional can evaluate your child's behavior and help diagnose the condition. They may talk with your child and your family members. This helps them understand your child's behavior pattern. You may need to provide information about your child's medial history, school life and social interactions. 

Treatments for DBDs

Treatment may include both therapy and medication. While there isn't a specific medication for DBDs, there are several that can treat some of the symptoms associated with the conditions. Medication can also treat conditions like ADHD. Children with DBDs often have other coexisting conditions. Your child won't only take medication, though. They might not need it at all. Treatment typically focuses on therapy. 

Therapists can create a tailored program for your child. This might include both individual sessions and parent sessions. In fact, the most effective therapy for DBDs includes parent behavior therapy.

During parent behavior therapy, you learn about the condition. You also find out how to identify things that might trigger your child's defiant behavior. The therapist can teach you various tools that help your family manage the condition and its symptoms. Therapy for children includes learning social-emotional skills. These can help them get along with others, make good decisions and cope with aggression. 

Recovery from DBDs

There aren't cures for DBDs, but your child can learn to manage their behavior. The earlier you start treatments, the better they work. If you ignore DBDs, the behavior issues might get worse. Children with DBDs can develop personality disorders. This is why it's important to seek treatment as soon as you can. 

The diagnosis and treatment of a DBD may affect and involve your entire family. There are support groups for parents and families of children with DBDs. Attending one might also help you learn more during the treatment process.