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Psychopharmacology for Children and Adolescents . WHAT PSYCHOLOGISTS AND COUNSELORS WHO WORK WITH KIDS SHOULD KNOW. FDA Approval. Resource for Pediatric FDA medication approval. Trends .

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Psychopharmacology for children and adolescents

Psychopharmacology for Children and Adolescents


Fda approval
FDA Approval

  • Resource for Pediatric FDA medication approval.


  • 1 in 10 children and adolescents have a mental illness severe enough to cause impairment.

  • Only 1 in 5 of these children receives any treatment.

  • For nearly half of the children who do receive services, the school was the only provider.


  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among children ages 10 – 19

  • Acute psychiatric illness is the single most common and dangerous trigger for suicide.

  • 90% of youth who died by suicide were suffering from depression or another diagnosable and treatable mental illness at the time of death.

  • Nearly as many teens die from suicide as all natural causes combined.

  • Another 520,000 children require medical services each year as a result of suicide attempts.

Prescribing for children
Prescribing for Children

  • Consideration must be given to factors that will influence medication compliance.

  • Ethical issues: Off-label prescribing, Informed consent and developmentally sensitive assent for medication for medication use.

Common anxiety related disorders of childhood
Common Anxiety-Related Disorders of Childhood

  • Separation Disorders

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorders

  • Panic Disorder

  • Social Phobia

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

  • Post Traumatic Disorder

Antidepressant anxiety psychopharmacology treatments
Antidepressant-Anxiety Psychopharmacology Treatments

Fluoxetine (Prozac)

Fluvoxamine (Luvox)

Escitalopram) (Lexapro)

Citalopram (Celexa)

Venlafaxine (Effexor)

Sertraline (Zoloft)

Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

Clomipramine (Anafranil)

Anxiety psychopharmacology
Anxiety Psychopharmacology

Augmentation for anxiety

  • Add an Atypical Antipsychotic (Seroquel) sleep and anxiety

  • Add Trazodone (sleep and acute anxiety)

  • Add Atarax (sleep and anxiety)

  • Mirtazapine (Remeron) sleep


  • Buspirone

  • Clonazepam

Duration of psychopharmacology treatment
Duration of Psychopharmacology Treatment

  • 9-18 months after treatment after symptoms resolve of stabilize, the gradual taper off medication.

  • Rapid discontinuation may lead to Discontinuation Syndrome

Childhood depression
Childhood Depression

  • Mood characteristically irritable and sad: Experienced as angry and oppositional

  • Mood reactivity; Brightens temporarily to an event

  • Neurovegative signs; Sleep, Energy, Motor

  • Somatic complaints

  • Rejection sensitivity

Depression co morbidities
Depression: Co-Morbidities

  • 60% co-morbid with ADHD (onset age 4)

  • 30-75% co-morbid with anxiety dx (onset age 6)

  • 20-80% co-morbid with oppositional/conduct dx (onset age 7-8)

  • Dysthymia/ Depression (onset age 8)

Depression psychopharmacological first line treatments
Depression Psychopharmacological First Line Treatments

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

  • Escitalopram) (Lexapro)

  • Citalopram (Celexa)

Depression psychopharmacological second line treatments
Depression Psychopharmacological Second Line Treatments

  • SSRI and Augmentation (If partial response to SSRI) ( Select agent for synergistic effects, e.g. Lithium or Buspirone)

  • Monotherapy, different class (TCA, SNRI, Bupropion, mirtazapine)

  • Combination Antidepressants

Warnings about antidepressants and children
Warnings About Antidepressants and Children

  • In both the United States and the Netherlands, SSRI prescriptions for children and adolescents decreased after U.S. and European regulatory agencies issued warnings about a possible suicide risk with antidepressant use in pediatric patients, and these decreases were associated with increases in suicide rates in children and adolescents.

  • Gibbons et al. Am J. Psychiatry 9/07

Pediatric attention deficit disorders
Pediatric Attention Deficit Disorders

  • ADHD, Combined Type (most prevalent)

  • ADHD, Predominantly Hyper-Active-Impulsive

  • ADHD, Predominately Inattentive

Adhd comorbid disorders
ADHD Comorbid Disorders

  • 35% oppositional defiance disorder

  • 75% mood disorders

  • 25% anxiety

  • 75% conduct disorders

Psychopharmacological treatments for adhd
Psychopharmacological TreatmentsFor ADHD

  • Methylphenidate based include: Ritalin, Ritalin LA, Metadate CD, Focalin, Focalin XR, and Concerta.

  • Amphetamine base include; Adderall, Adderall XR, Vyvanse, and Dexedrine.

Psychopharmacological treatments for adhd1
Psychopharmacological TreatmentsFor ADHD

  • Second line treatments Amoxetine (Strattera), Tricyclic antidepressants, and Bupropion (Wellbutrin).

  • Tenex and Clonidine which are blood pressure medications that can be helpful with attention deficit disorders. Especially with hyperactivity and impulsivity and TIC’s.

Common adverse effects of stimulants
Common Adverse Effects of Stimulants

  • Reduction of appetite

  • Insomnia

  • Anxiety

  • Irritability

Black box warning for stimulants
Black box warning for Stimulants

  • HTN

  • Stroke

  • Sudden death

  • Heart attack

  • Palpitations

  • Arrhythmia

Pediatric bipolar disorder
Pediatric Bipolar Disorder

  • Thought to represent a developmental subtype of adult onset BAD

  • Characterized by a mixed presentation versus discrete episode of depression & mania

  • First episode more likely mixed or mania, with irritability & “affective storm” then euphoria

  • Often predicts a chronic or rapid cycling course & poor or partial response

Bipolar disorder age of onset pooled data n 1 304
Bipolar Disorder: Age of Onset(Pooled Data N=1,304)

Goodwin F, Jamison K. Manic Depression. New York: Oxford University Press; 1990.

Pediatric bipolar disorder co morbid disorders
Pediatric Bipolar DisorderCo-morbid Disorders

  • 60-90% ADHD

  • 50-60% Anxiety disorders

  • 88% Opposition defiant DO

  • 40% Conduct disorder

  • 40% Learning disabilities, reading

  • 30% Learning disabilities, math

  • Psychotic symptoms

Bipolar and adhd symptoms
Bipolar and ADHD Symptoms

  • Symptoms may overlap:

    • Talks excessively: jumps from toppic to topic

    • Easily distracted; frequently changes activities and plans

    • Fidgety; motor restlessness

    • Interrupts; butts in; blurts out; low social inhibitions

    • Impulsive; disregard for potential adverse effects

Distinguishing symptoms adhd pediatric bipolar do
Distinguishing symptoms: ADHD & Pediatric Bipolar DO

  • ADHD

    • Forgetful: loses things: makes careless mistakes

    • Avoids sustained mental effort & monotonous tasks

    • Doesn’t listen: difficulty following directions

  • Bipolar Disorder

    • Inflated self esteem: grandiosity

    • Increased goal directed activity

    • Increased sexual interests; sexual indiscretions

Psychopharmacological bipolar treatments
Psychopharmacological Bipolar Treatments

  • Mood Stabilizers

    • Depakote

    • Lithium

    • Tegretol

    • Trileptal

    • Tpomax

  • Antipsychotics

    • Abilify (Aripiprazole)

    • Zyprexa (Olanzapine)

    • Geodon (Ziprasidone)

    • Seroquel (Quetiapine)

    • Risperdal (Risperidone)

    • Invega

Aripiprazole abilify
Aripiprazole (Abilify)

FDA approved ABILIFY® (aripiprazole) for the acute treatment of manic and mixed episodes, maintenance treatment of manic or mixed episodes, and as add-on treatment to lithium or valproate, associated with Bipolar I Disorder, with or without psychotic features, and schizophrenia in pediatric patients (10 to 17 years old).

Treatment risperidone risperdal


No blood tests

Once a day dosing



FDA approved Risperdal (risperidone) for the treatment of schizophrenia in adolescents, ages 13 to 17, and for the short-term treatment of manic or mixed episodes of bipolar I disorder in children and adolescents ages 10 to 17.



Some reports of mania induction

Weight gain



Tardive dyskinesia

Diabetes risk

Treatment: Risperidone (Risperdal)

Legal issues for school personnel
Legal Issues for School Personnel

  • More than 23 states have either introduced or enacted legislation in recent years related to children and psychotropic drug use (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2004)

    • It is important to know if your state has passed such a law.

  • The Child Medication Safety Act was being considered by the Senate. If it had passed, it would’ve mandate states to develop and implement policies that prohibit school personnel from coercing parents into administering controlled substances in order to gain access to school.

    • Although the act never passed, a version of it has been reintroduced several times. It is important to monitor the status of this action as the rules may change.

What can non medical practitioners do
What can non-medical practitioners do?

  • Be involved in helping physicians and families make effective decisions by assisting with

    • (a) diagnostic decision-making and determining the need for medication

    • (b) evaluating medication effects and determining optimal dosage

    • (c) integrating medical, psychosocial, and educational interventions.

Communication with medical staff
Communication with Medical Staff

  • Provide the following concerning target behaviors:

    • Identifying (operationally define)

    • Quantifying (evaluate using numeric data)

    • Prioritizing (only target the most important behaviors)

    • Efficiently communicating (provide progress monitoring information)

  • Provide the following concerning side-effect behaviors.

    • Identifying (operationally define)

    • Quantifying (evaluate using numeric data)

    • Prioritizing (only target the most important behaviors)

    • Efficiently communicating (provide progress monitoring information)

References resources
References/ Resources

  • Kathryn Still for her presentation, “Common Childhood Psychiatric Disorders.”

  • Kenneth Herrmann for his presentation, “Emerging Trends in Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology

  • DuPaul & Carlson for their paper, “Child Psychopharmacology: How School Psychologists Can Contribute to Effective Outcomes”