, Volume 51, Issue 5, pp 750-759
Date: 13 Oct 2012

Pharmacological Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders in Children and Adolescents

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This article is a practical review of the current psychopharmacological agents used in the treatment of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders. Psychostimulants such as methylphenidate, dexamphetamine and pemoline are effective in the control of symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The controlled release preparations and the adjunctive use of clonidine are helpful to extend stimulant effects and control adverse effects. Tricyclic antidepressants are helpful in individual cases of child and adolescent depression, but adverse effects may limit their use. Clomipramine has been found to be effective for childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder. Selective serotonin (5-HT) reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) appear to be safer for depression and are also useful in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Buspirone is effective for the treatment of anxiety disorders in children. Newer atypical antipsychotics such as risperidone may have less limiting adverse effects than older antiychotics in the treatment of psychosis and severe behaviour disorders, but the physician must be vigilant for the emergence of tardive dyskinesia. Drug treatment in children and adolescents must take into account the child’s environmental influences and be part of an overall treatment plan where individual, familial and cultural issues are addressed.