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Medications for Oppositional Defiant Disorder

By Brooke Nichols ; Updated July 27, 2017

Oppositional defiant disorder, commonly known as ODD, is a behavioral disorder in childhood that is characterized by poor anger management, temper tantrums, non-compliance, arguing with adults, poor social interactions and deliberately spiteful or vindictive behavior. Medications can treat the irritability, anger and poor impulse control associated with the condition.

Antidepressants

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's) are the most common type of antidepressant prescribed for children. Medications such as Prozac and Zoloft can be used to calm anxiety, irritability and poor impulse control that is characteristic of ODD.

Stimulants

ODD commonly co-exists with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition treated with stimulants. Medications such as Adderall, Ritalin or Concerta address symptoms of inattention, impulsive behavior and hyperactivity that contribute to defiance of rules and directions from adults.

Alpha Blockers

Choosing an alpha blocker that is often prescribed for ADHD and/or ODD is another option for symptom control. Alpha blockers such as clonidine and Tenex help to calm anxiety and assist in impulse control. Such drugs target rage and anger that is associated with oppositional behavior.

Atypical Agents

Taking atypical medications such as anxiolytics or antipsychotics can also be helpful for children with ODD. Medications such as BuSpar, Seroquel or Risperdal can have a calming effect and may reduce anger and irritability that produces the spiteful and vindictive behavior commonly associated with ODD.

Other Factors

As ODD is a behavioral disorder, counseling should be part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Depending on the child, behavioral therapy could be more effective than medication.

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