View Full Version : Article: Skyrocketing numbers of kids are prescribed powerful antipsychotic drugs.


graceful
07-14-11, 04:51 AM
I came across this interesting article. I'm sure many can relate with Cathy's story and her son Matthew...

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/07/29/Worldandnation/The__atypical__dilemm.shtml

I know it's hard for any parent to decide to medicate. Especially when other family members are at risk of violent & dangerous outbursts. But what to do? Confused. The drugs work, but at what cost? Then if we don't medicate, what then?


- Grace.

TygerSan
07-14-11, 08:50 AM
This is an issue very much in my mind, as the issue of potential long-term effects of drugs on development is essentially what the lab I am currently working in is addressing.

I think the biggest problem with the atypical antipsychotics is *not* necessarily that they're being prescribed to children and adolescents, but how they're being prescribed. There is a fairly large assumption made that since these drugs are essentially safe for adults, that they are also safe for children. It also seems like they are sometimes prescribed in order to mask side-effects from other drugs, or in borderline cases, because of that assumption of safety.

Fortunately, these issues are starting to be addressed in the research community, although precisely *how* to address it (what questions to ask; which models to use,etc.) is a little vague.

The co-prescription of psychostimulants and atypical antipsychotics always makes me scratch my head a little bit too because on the most basic level, they do opposite things. Obviously, though, the brain is very complex, and the effects of both of the drugs together is very likely to be different than the effect of each drug separately.

TygerSan
07-14-11, 09:11 AM
Another point, the article posted has many inaccuracies, and has a rather sensationalist agenda.

For example, Seroquel is an antipsychotic, not an antidepressant, and as far as I know, doesn't carry the black box warning about suicide risk.

Dovie
07-14-11, 09:36 AM
Yeah, the use of both psychostimulants and atypical antipsychotics for a single patient always makes me scratch my head, too. I know they effect different aspects in the brain, but still. To the layman, it looks like a pill to help with another pill. So confusing.

I've known at least one child who took Risperdal. This child had every reason to need it, including being raped, watching his father put a gun to his own head, and being forced by a man to assist in the murder of his mother's boyfriend. When he wasn't on his medication he would go from almost catatonic to abruptly violent (scratching at eyes, grabbing kitchen knives and waving them at you, etc). In his case the symptoms of his psychosis FAR outweighed the possible long term effects. Without access to these medications he would have been hospitalized permanently. His types of traumas aren't easily worked through. Even his therapists (he had a team!) all believed that he would need the medication until he matured enough to actually deal with the problems in his head.

Now, the question of who actually needs these meds should be addressed. I will say that I believe MOST of the children prescribed these meds could benefit from counselling and better parenting before medication. I know I won't be popular on this board for saying it, but if a child is screaming their head off in public or throwing things when they don't get their way, it's usually the parenting. Of course, there are times when it is a true disorder. I admit that. And doctors can't possibly sort through all the bull 100% of the time. Still, how many of these kids are actually in need of meds and how many are in need of an environmental change? I'll always wonder that, even as I give my son a psychostimulant 5 days a week.

mctavish23
07-14-11, 10:42 AM
Isn't it wonderful then that first tier,approved treatments for ADHD,don't

use those?

(Notice I said "first tier").

If there was a study on "Skyrocketing Stupidity," I don't think the best Super

Computer could handle the data fast enough.:eek:

tc

mctavish23

(Robert)

Lunacie
07-14-11, 11:23 AM
Yeah, the use of both psychostimulants and atypical antipsychotics for a single patient always makes me scratch my head, too. I know they effect different aspects in the brain, but still. To the layman, it looks like a pill to help with another pill. So confusing.

I've known at least one child who took Risperdal. This child had every reason to need it, including being raped, watching his father put a gun to his own head, and being forced by a man to assist in the murder of his mother's boyfriend. When he wasn't on his medication he would go from almost catatonic to abruptly violent (scratching at eyes, grabbing kitchen knives and waving them at you, etc). In his case the symptoms of his psychosis FAR outweighed the possible long term effects. Without access to these medications he would have been hospitalized permanently. His types of traumas aren't easily worked through. Even his therapists (he had a team!) all believed that he would need the medication until he matured enough to actually deal with the problems in his head.

Now, the question of who actually needs these meds should be addressed. I will say that I believe MOST of the children prescribed these meds could benefit from counselling and better parenting before medication. I know I won't be popular on this board for saying it, but if a child is screaming their head off in public or throwing things when they don't get their way, it's usually the parenting. Of course, there are times when it is a true disorder. I admit that. And doctors can't possibly sort through all the bull 100% of the time. Still, how many of these kids are actually in need of meds and how many are in need of an environmental change? I'll always wonder that, even as I give my son a psychostimulant 5 days a week.

I can't make any blanket statements about whether kids who are being prescribed anti-psychotics haven't already gotten counseling/therapy and don't have parents who are doing their very best. I can only comment on my granddaughter, diagnosed with Atypical Autism and Anxiety disorders - as well as getting both play therapy and family therapy. Her mom and I read books and blogs and websites and we're doing our very best to be good parents.

But - without those meds our therapist would have already suggested a residential living situation for her instead of waiting until now to mention the possibility. We recently switched her from Risperidol to Clonidine, and we're seeing more narrow focus and perserveration and anger outbursts again. And as she gets older the anger is changing from just a frustrated lashing out in any direction to taking a punch at a particular target - her mom. And since she's nearly as big as her mom already, it's a real concern.

TygerSan
07-14-11, 12:26 PM
But - without those meds our therapist would have already suggested a residential living situation for her instead of waiting until now to mention the possibility. And this is why I *hate* articles like the one posted in the OP. . . there are very much times where these medications are indicated and necessary.

Most physicians and therapists are very knowledgeable, thoughtful, and caring individuals, who do think deeply about their choices and suggestions to patients. . .and then there are others who are not so well-informed, just as there are patients (and parents) who are well-informed, and those who are not.

Risperidone is FDA approved for the child/adolescent age range, specifically for ASDs. That means that there is much more safety testing on it than on a lot of these meds. I think the question that we always have to ask, is are the risks worth the benefits? But in order to do that, we actually have to understand the risks, and I do believe that there are a minority of folk out there (clinicians, even) who believe that because the risks of these drugs aren't fully understood, that there are none.