A Review of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Complicated by Symptoms of Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder

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Background:Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a highly prevalent disorder with significant functional impairment. ADHD is frequently complicated by oppositional symptoms, which are difficult to separate from comorbidity with oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and aggressive symptoms. This review addresses the impact of oppositional symptoms on ADHD, disease course, functional impairment, clinical management, and treatment response.Review of clinical evidence:Oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder may be comorbid in more than half of ADHD cases and are more common with the combined than with the inattentive ADHD subtype. Comorbid symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder in patients with ADHD can have a significant impact on the course and prognosis for these patients and may lead to differential treatment response to both behavioral and pharmacologic treatments.Impact on clinical management:Assessment of oppositional symptoms is an essential part of ADHD screening and diagnosis and should include parental, as well as educator, input. Although clinical evidence remains limited, some stimulant and nonstimulant medications have shown effectiveness in treating both core ADHD symptoms and oppositional symptoms.Conclusions:Oppositional symptoms are a key consideration in ADHD management, although the optimum approach to treating ADHD complicated by such symptoms remains unclear. Future research should focus on the efficacy and safety of various behavioral and medication regimens, as well as longitudinal studies to further clarify the relationships between ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, and conduct disorder.

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