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Trends Emerge in Antipsychotic Medication Use in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults

Despite concerns that use of antipsychotic medications in treating young people has increased, use actually declined between 2006 and 2010 for children ages 12 and under, and increased for adolescents and young adults.

In a study published this month in JAMA Psychiatry, Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, of Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and NYS Psychiatric Institute, and his colleagues analyzed prescription data from 2006-2010 to identify trends in the use of antipsychotic medications in young people in the United States.

They found that boys are more likely than girls to be given prescriptions for antipsychotics. Approximately 1.5% of boys 10 to 18 years of age received an antipsychotic prescription in 2010. Most of this use appears to be for clinical diagnoses such as ADHD and disruptive behavior disorders, which fall outside of FDA-approved indications.

Olfson notes: "Relatively few of these young people are receiving psychotherapy. We may need to put greater effort into increasing access to psychosocial interventions that can treat symptoms and behaviors that are currently being addressed with antipsychotic medications."

--Source: Columbia University Medical Center