Lifestyle & Belief

Antipsychotics for kids with ADHD is growing, despite dangers, new study shows


Students eat while camping out at the Center for Attention and Related Disorders camp — which provides the structure, discipline, and social order necessary for children who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and similar disorders — at the Great Hollow Wilderness School July 30, 2003 in New Fairfield, Connecticut.


Brendan Smialowski

Kids, remember to "just say no" to dangerous drugs...even if they're being offered by your doctor. A new study shows that antipsychotic drugs are prescribed during almost one in three of all visits kids make to psychiatrists in the United States, Reuters reported. This marks a dramatic increase from the 1990s, when that rate was just 1 in 11. The researchers said that much of that increase comes from doctors prescribing antipsychotics for ADHD. This is problematic because the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved of antipsychotics for ADHD treatment. 

Antipsychotic drugs are only approved to treat certain disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autistic disorder. "None of them are approved for use with ADHD," said Dr. Mark Olfson, the study's lead author, told Reuters. The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, explains that antipsychotics are linked to damaging side effects, such as diabetes and weight gain. 

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In addition, the drugs' long-term effects on children's brains has not been studied, HealthDay reported. Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist not involved with the study, says that the drugs are more damaging than people realize. "We have a national catastrophe," Breggin told HealthDay. "This is a situation where we have ruined the brains of millions of children."

Breggin added that antipsychotics act on the frontal lobes of the brain, which is the same area that is targeted by a lobotomy. "These are lobotomizing drugs," he told HealthDay. "Of course, they will reduce all behavior, including irritability."

Previous research has also shown that antipsychotics are unnecessarily prescribed to elderly patients and incarcerated kids