I read a disturbing bit of news a couple of weeks ago: Antipsychotic use rising among teens and young adults.
A growing number of teens and young adults are being prescribed antipsychotics, a new study suggests.
In particular, it appears they’re being used to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – a condition for which the powerful drugs are not approved.
The study mentioned was recently published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry.
Antipsychotics include such heavily-marketed drugs as Abilify (aripiprazole), Risperdal (risperidone), Seroquel (quetiapine) and Zyprexa (olanzapine).
The good news in the study is that antipsychotic use in children (ages 12 and under) is dropping. There is concern that the drugs cause obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol, and it isn’t really known what long-term effects these mind-altering drugs could have on a child’s physical and mental development.
But I would argue that teenagers are still children, and we still don’t know how these “powerful drugs” will affect them in later life.
Not surprisingly, because these drugs are being used to treat aggressive behaviors and ADHD, boys are being prescribed the antipsychotics much more frequently than girls.
“Great caution should be exercised in the use of antipsychotics, especially for young children,” said lead study author Dr. Mark Olfson, a research psychiatrist at Columbia University in New York.
Before parents agree to start their child on antipsychotics to manage aggressive behavior, they should ask about alternative treatments such as anger management, counseling for parents on how to respond to aggression, and other psychosocial options, he said.
It makes me incredibly sad to think of so many children and young adults being treated unnecessarily with these heavy medications.
Is their chance at a healthy future being undermined?
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