Posts Tagged ‘ psychiatric medications ’

Mental Health Prescriptions Dropping for Kids

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

The number of children who are being prescribed medications for mental health conditions including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety is stabilizing, even as the number of children diagnosed with those disorders continues to rise.  More from

From the early 1990s to the early 2000s, the number of young children on psychotropic drugs, which include anti-depressants, stimulants, mood stabilizers and anti-anxiety agents, increased by two- to three- fold. Some drugs, including several ADHD medications, have been approved for use in children ages six to 12, while others have not studied long term in younger patients.

But in a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers report that psychotropic drug treatments among children is stabilizing, according to data from a national sample of more than 43,000 kids between the ages of two and five. These drug prescriptions peaked between 2002 and 2005, and leveled off from 2006 to 2009.

While more refined guidelines for diagnosing mood and behavioral disorders among children may explain some of the change in medication use, more stringent warnings about the potential risks of psychotropic drugs on youngsters probably also played a role. In the mid-2000s, the Food and Drug Administration started adding its strictest black box warning to antidepressant medications, alerting doctors and patients to the serious risks these treatments could pose for children and adolescents. For those reasons, more pediatric groups advise doctors to start their youngest patients on behavioral therapies first, before relying on medications to treat their symptoms. “Our findings underscore the need to ensure that doctors of very young children who are diagnosing ADHD, the most common diagnosis, and prescribing stimulants, the most common kind of psychotropic medications, are using the most up-to-date and stringent diagnostic criteria and clinical practice guidelines,” the authors conclude.

However, some recent research showed that more than one in five specialists who diagnose and recommend treatment for preschoolers with ADHD turn to drug therapy first, either alone or in tandem with behavior therapy.

Image: Child with prescription bottle, via Shutterstock

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Most Teens with Mental Problems Not Taking Medication

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Most teenagers who have been identified as having a mental health disorder are not taking medications for the condition, a new study from the National Institutes of Health has found. The news will be a relief to those who fear that American teens are abusing psychotropic drugs, but of concern to others who fear emotional problems are going untreated among teenagers.  More from Reuters:

“Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funded the study, said there was no compelling evidence for either misuse or overuse of psychotropic medications, which include stimulants for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), antidepressants and antipsychotics.

“Certain the use of psychiatric medications has been increasing in children and adolescents over the years,” said Benedetto Vitiello from the NIH, who worked on the study.

“(But) most of the adolescents who met the criteria for a condition were not receiving medication, which suggests that they were being treated with something else, maybe psychotherapy, or maybe they were not even treated,” he added. “This data may suggest that there may be underuse (of psychiatric medications) in some cases.”

The findings, which appeared in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, are based on interviews with more than 10,000 teens and their parents, most of whom had at least a high school education and were middle class or above. The interviews were conducted between 2001 and 2004.”

Image: Depressed teenager, via Shutterstock

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Study: Foster Children Frequently Prescribed Antipsychotic Drugs

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Foster children are prescribed strong antipsychotic drugs at rates that are similar to the most mentally disabled young people on Medicaid, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found.  The study found that three drugs in particular–Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa–are often prescribed in tandem, not for their antipsychotic effects, but as “major tranquilizers.”

Researchers expressed alarm that the drugs are being used to treat “troubled kids” who do not have the severe mental health disorders that would legitimately warrant heavy use of the medications.  Two percent of foster children are given some form of medication, the study reports, a number that is significantly different from the average number of children who are given diagnoses of schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder.

“We simply don’t have evidence to support this kind of use, especially in young children,” Susan dosReis, an associate professor in the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and the lead author, told The New York Times.

The Times reports that policy makers are taking action to stop this disturbing trend:

…The relatively high rates of these drug combinations in such a young and vulnerable group have prompted policy makers across the country to take notice. A consortium of 16 states, in collaboration with Rutgers University, has drawn up guidelines to improve care for foster children and others dependent on state aid.

“The psychiatrists who are treating these kids on the front lines are not doing it for money; there are very low reimbursement rates from Medicaid,” said Dr. Ramesh Raghavan, a mental health services researcher at Washington University in St. Louis. “There’s enormous anguish because everyone knows that this is not what we should be doing for these kids. We as a society simply haven’t made the investment in psychosocial treatments, and so we are forced to rely on psychotropic drugs to carry the burden.”

Image:  Pill bottle, via Shutterstock.

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Doctors Debate ‘Temper’ Disorder Name, Relevance

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Doctors and mental health professionals are deep in debate over whether a new named disorder for children with severe temper tantrums should be included in the new version of the mental health diagnostic reference manual.

Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, or DMDD, would be diagnosed in children 6 years old or older if they suffer from severe irritability and uncontrollable outbursts–far beyond the  “temper tantrums” that every child experiences at some point in normal development.

The Los Angeles Times reports that some proponents of the new diagnosis say it could help reduce the number of bipolar disorder diagnoses made–and medications prescribed–in children who might be able to be managed differently under a DMDD diagnosis.

Opponents, including pediatrician Dr. Claudia Gold, argue that the new label could do just the opposite, leading to more psychiatric prescriptions, not fewer.

“DMDD is being created as a new diagnosis to stem the rising tide of diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children. But I fear that this label will have the same fate, as clinicians feel helpless in the face of these troubled young families,” Gold writes on

The new diagnostic reference volume, the DSM-5, will be published in May of 2013.

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