Oppositional defiant disorder usually occurs in families with a history of substance use disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or other mental disorders such as bipolar disorder and depression. The disorder results from a combination of psychological, biological and social factors, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Oppositional defiant disorder does not have a single cause or a dominant risk factor, claims the American Academy of Family Physicians. The disorder originates from a complex setting in which the biological vulnerabilities of a child interact with harmful aspects in his environment and, subsequently, precipitate the disorder. Typically, children with the disorder lack the emotional or cognitive skills required to comply to requests made by adults.
Risk factors of oppositional defiant disorder include malnutrition and smoking during pregnancy. Coexisting conditions in children, such as mood and conduct disorders, are also predictors of oppositional defiant disorder. Although the disorder has familial origins, the role that genetics plays in the development of the disorder is not clearly understood. Children diagnosed with severe forms of the disorder at a young age have a poorer long-term prognosis and may develop anxiety, depression or a stable pattern of the disorder in later stages, states the American Academy of Family Physicians.