View Full Version : [Antipsychotic] Drugs Offer No Benefit in Curbing Aggression, Study Finds

01-04-08, 09:18 AM
Drugs Offer No Benefit in Curbing Aggression, Study Finds

Published: January 4, 2008
New York Times

The drugs most widely used to manage aggressive outbursts in intellectually disabled people are no more effective than dummy pills for most patients and may be less so, researchers are reporting.

The finding, being published Friday, sharply challenges standard medical practice in mental health clinics and nursing homes in the United States and around the world.

In recent years many doctors have begun to use the so-called antipsychotic drugs, which were developed to treat schizophrenia, as all-purpose tranquilizers to settle threatening behavior —in children with attention-deficit problems, college students with depression, older people with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as people who are intellectually handicapped.

The new study tracked 86 adults with low I.Q.’s in community housing in England, Wales and Australia over more than a month of treatment. It found a 79 percent reduction in aggressive behavior among those taking placebo pills, compared with a reduction of 65 percent or less in those taking antipsychotic drugs.

The researchers focused on ... Risperdal ... and an older generic drug, Haldol, but said the findings almost certainly applied to all similar medications. Such drugs account for more than $10 billion in annual sales, and research suggests that at least half of prescriptions are for unapproved “off label” uses — often aggression or irritation.

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01-05-08, 02:06 PM
When I was at uni, I took a 4th year seminar course in this topic. It was called 'Advanced Topics in Developmental Psychology: Developmental Disabilities', I think.

Aggression in the mentally disabled is a very complicated topic.

A lot of the problem is inability to communicate their own needs.

Studies have shown this with kids who have LDs or low Executive Function too. Inability to Communicate verbally or otherwise (signing; speech boards, etc) CAN cause communication to become physical (violence).

Imagine that your (a) teeth hurt or (b) your gallbladder is infected and ready to blow or (c) you are being bullied (disabled people have astronomical abuse rates) or (d) the lights in your living space are too bright and consequently are very painful to you (autism spectrum sensitivity) in a way that "normals" cannot understand -- but you cannot articulate that to others -- to get some help and reduce your suffering!

Drugs ('chemical restraints' really; and sometimes just as disparagingly used) can only 'hold someone down' for so long in these scenarios.


I would say the worst outcome is to be 'Mentally Disabled' (e.g. IQ of 60-80) BUT to "look normal".

Those kids wind up in jail (and DEATH ROW), b/c people have "normal" expectations of them.

In some ways "looking disabled" (e.g. Down's appearance), if one is, can be a good thing, outcome-wise.