Many children with hyperactivity disorders are prescribed medication that is intended to help them. But a recent comprehensive study (the first of its kind) showed that certain drugs may be doing more harm than good. For kids with ADHD and other behavioral issues, a few different types of drugs are often prescribed including ADHD medications, anti-depressants and in extreme cases anti-psychotics. It is this last group on which the study, published by neuroscientists at the University of Wollongong, focused:
The study looked at three commonly prescribed drugs called Risperidone, Olanzapine and Aripiprazole.
They found using the drugs during childhood and adolescence could have significant lifelong impacts on levels of hyperactivity, depression and anxiety.
Many of the drugs used to treat behavior problems are typically not intended to be used in children because young people’s brains are still developing. So the meds are often prescribed “off-label.”
Michael De Santis, a PhD student who led the study, said researchers theorise using the drugs to repeatedly block receptors in a growing brain leads to more receptors, meaning mental health conditions could get worse later in life.
“[This] would then cause an opposite effect of what the drugs were used for,” he said.
While the drugs had more of a negative impact on males than they did on females, there were definite effects for both sexes – namely increased anxiety-like behaviors in adulthood.
Comprehensive studies, such as this one, are extremely important because they allow government agencies to create stricter guidelines for use of these drugs in children.
The powerful anti-psychotic drugs are typically used to treat mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bi-polar which are not usually diagnosed until late adolescence.
The video below was taken by a family, the Harrisons, whose son suffers from autism, ADHD, and ODD. He has been prescribed medication because his behavior was proving unsafe for himself and the entire family. They shared the video to give other parents advice on calming a meltdown.