John M. Grohol of World of Psychology has a very interesting article about prescribing atypical antipsychotics to children under age six. The take-home message from the article is:
After carefully reviewing the limited amount of research in this area, Psych Central recommends that parents should never accept an atypical antipsychotic medication prescription for a child age 5 or younger. If your doctor makes such a prescription, you should (a) look for another doctor and (b) consider filing a complaint with your state’s medical board against the doctor.
Grohol explains about the lack of research on antipsychotics for young children. What research has been done on children under age thirteen, is usually not longitudinal. I find it astonishing, in fact, that drugs get approved by the FDA after very short-term trials. Abilify was approved for autistic irritability in children age six to seventeen after two brief (8- to 12-week) trials found it beat placebo. The reality is that these children will not take Abilify for two or three momths, but probably for several years, unless serious side effects develop. Since drugs are regularly a substitute for proper behavioral and supportive intervention, they remain the only “solution” to the problem.
In the case of the child discussed in this blog post, there wasn’t even a brain disorder – or only a relatively mild one that shouldn’t be treated with antipsychotics, ie. attention deficit disorder – prior to the prescription of Risperdal. This child did not have bipolar disorder or autism. This child was having tantrums due to his stressful family situation, and it took involvement from a supporitive professional to find that out. (Of course, as I have said a million times, autistics and people with bipolar disorder can also have meltdowns due to unsuitable circumstances, and meds are not the solution then, either.) Young Kyle was medicated for all the wrong reasons, and who knows what brain damage Risperdal may’ve done?