Public Release: 

Study cautions: Psychotropic medications overprescribed to children

Wiley

Fredericksburg, TX--April 20, 2010--A new study from the Journal of Marital & Family Therapy warns of the dramatic rise in the use of psychotropic medications for children. One in every fifty Americans is now considered permanently disabled by mental illness, and up to eight million children take one or more psychotropic drugs.

The authors, James P. Morris, Ph.D. and George Stone, LCSW, state that there is little evidence available to warrant the widespread use of psychotropic drugs for children, and little long term data regarding its long term impact on development. According to the authors the mental health field is currently designed to treat adults with psychotropic medications, but they are often misused in the case of children and adolescents, "This presents an ethical challenge to marriage and family therapists, who should be very cautious about these medications as an option for children. The long-term research on their safety for children is uncertain."

As an example, the diagnosis of early onset bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has climbed drastically in the past decade. Drugs designed to treat the above two disorders show a fair short term risk-benefit ratio, but a poor long-term benefit. Morris and Stone indicate, "If the psychiatric community has been misled by pharmaceutical companies in thinking that these drugs are safe for their children, the parents of these children have been in turn deluded into putting their children in harm's way."

The authors continue that the pharmaceutical industry is largely influenced by the desire for economic profit, and the marketing muscle behind the industry, and leniency of institutions such as the FDA, tout benefits that are not yet properly evaluated for pediatric use. Between 1994 and 2001, psychotropic prescriptions for adolescents rose more than sixty percent; the rise post-1999 was connected to the development and marketing of several new psychotropic drugs and the rebranding of several older ones.

Morris and Stone claim that family health professionals are put in the line of fire when children begin to experience the negative consequences of long-term use of these medications. They are left with the challenge of evaluating the quality of evidence-based care offered to their pediatric clients by the psychiatric community, and the negative effects of the medications without sufficient empirical evidence or information.

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This study is published in an upcoming issue of Journal of Marital & Family Therapy. To request a full-text version of this article please contact scholarlynews@wiley.com.

To view an abstract of this article please visit http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123216887/abstract.

Article: "Children and Psychotropic Medication: A Cautionary Note." James P. Morris; George Stone. Journal of Marital & Family Therapy; Published Online: October 29, 2009 (DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2009.00178.x).

Dr. James P. Morris is an Associate Professor of Marriage & Family Therapy in the Department of Applied & Professional Studies at Texas Tech University. He has also worked as a family therapist for over twenty-five years, and has published in numerous professional and academic publications. He can be reached for questions at bjames.morris@ttu.edu.

George Stone, LCSW, is a Family Therapist in Anchorage Alaska. He has 38 years experience as a therapist, teacher and supervisor. His work synthesizes the Strategic Therapy of Jay Haley with the symbolic anthropology of Victor and Edith Turner. He can be reached for questions at georgestone@clearwire.net.

About the Journal: The Journal of Marital & Family Therapy (JMFT) is published quarterly by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) and, with over 20,000 subscribers, is the best known and most influential family therapy journal in the world.

About Wiley-Blackwell: Wiley-Blackwell is the international scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly publishing business of John Wiley & Sons, with strengths in every major academic and professional field and partnerships with many of the world's leading societies. Wiley-Blackwell publishes nearly 1,500 peer-reviewed journals and 1,500+ new books annually in print and online, as well as databases, major reference works and laboratory protocols. For more information, please visit www.wileyblackwell.com or www.interscience.wiley.com.

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