Antipsychotic Prescriptions Increasing for Children and Adolescents in Australian Primary Care Services

New research finds a concerning number of children are being prescribed antipsychotic drugs, most for off-label conditions.


A new article published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry Advances finds that antipsychotic prescriptions for children and adolescents rose significantly between 2011 and 2017 in Australian primary care services.

The current research, headed by Julie Klau of the University of Adelaide, reveals that the majority of antipsychotic prescriptions written by general practitioners were for off-label complaints. This means these drugs were commonly prescribed to children with little to no evidence that they could treat their symptoms. Additionally, most of the service users prescribed antipsychotics were also prescribed other psychotropic drugs simultaneously.

The authors write:

“Prescribing antipsychotics for mental health diagnoses to children/ adolescents attending Australian general practices was more frequent in 2017 than in 2011 and most commonly associated with depression/anxiety diagnoses. In both years, most prescribing was off‐label. The majority of patients were co‐prescribed other classes of psychotropics along with antipsychotics.”

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  1. Antipsychotics for ADHD, autism and anxiety? On what planet would that be effective? We know exactly which medications are most effective for these diagnoses so why aren’t doctors prescribing those medications instead?

    And why aren’t children and adolescents being treated with psychiatric counselling, CBT/DBT and group therapy before starting medications? Too expensive I suppose.

    The long-term side effects of antipsychotics are well known; weight gain, tardive dyskinesia, NMS, diabetes, hypotension, myocarditis and even changes in the brain including decreases in grey matter volume.

    Starting so many young people down this road (many unnecessarily) while their brains are still developing will only lead to problems later on.

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