Anti-Psychotic Medications are Being Overused

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has raised concerns about practitioners overprescribing and overusing anti-psychotic medications for seniors with dementia, children with behavioral problems and/or ADHD symptoms, or adults suffering from insomnia.

Anti-psychotic medications include drugs traditionally used for conditions such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. Recently, they have been more widely used for patients ranging from unruly nursing home residents to children with aggressive behaviors or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. That’s despite growing concerns about misuse and side effects.

The concern is that, in many cases when misused, these medications actually cause the problem to get worse or even cause other issues and adverse side effects. In fact, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) recently launched a campaign called “Choose Wisely,” to raise awareness and spread the message that anti-psychotic medications should not be the first course of treatment. The group also cautions against using the medications without full evaluations and ongoing monitoring or using them in combinations of two or more, without trying several single medications first.

According to USA Today, “it’s questionable for practitioners to use anti-psychotic drugs as routine or first-choice treatments for:

  • The behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. This is a common practice in nursing homes. But side effects can include confusion, sedation and hastened death;
  • Children and teens with any condition other than a psychotic disorder. Use in children has risen rapidly, especially among poor and minority children, despite research linking the medications to weight gain, cardiovascular changes and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes;
  • Adult insomnia. There’s inadequate evidence they work for the sleeping problem.”

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