Pharmacotherapy for mental health problems in people with intellectual disability

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Abstract

Purpose of review Psychotropic medications are commonly prescribed to people with intellectual disability. We reviewed current evidence-based pharmacotherapy options and recent updates to guide clinicians in their medication management plans. Recent findings Antipsychotics, particularly risperidone, appear to be effective in reducing problem behaviors in children with intellectual disability. Evidence in adults is inconclusive. Methylphenidate appears to be effective, and α-agonists appear promising in reducing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms. Lithium might be effective in reducing aggression. Evidence is limited to support the use of antiepileptic drugs, anxiolytics, and naltrexone for management of problem behaviors. Antidepressants may be poorly tolerated and might not be effective in reducing repetitive/stereotypic behaviors. In recent trials, glutamatergic and GABAergic agents for fragile X syndrome, and acetylcholinesterase inhibitors for Down's syndrome, failed to show efficacy. Growth hormone treatment might improve cognition and behavior in Prader-Willi syndrome population. Results from oxytocin trials on social behaviors are inconclusive albeit promising. Melatonin appears to improve sleep. Most trials of dietary supplements did not show benefits. Summary Evidence-based pharmacotherapy options in people with intellectual disability are limited, and many agents can cause substantial adverse events. For this reason, clinicians should consider pharmacotherapy as only a part of comprehensive treatment, and regularly assess drug effects, adverse events, and the feasibility of decreasing dose or withdrawing medications.

LanguageEnglish (US)
Pages103-125
Number of pages23
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychiatry
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Fingerprint

Disabled Persons
Intellectual Disability
Mental Health
Drug Therapy
Therapeutics
Problem Behavior
Excitatory Amino Acid Agents
GABA Agents
Prader-Willi Syndrome
Fragile X Syndrome
Naltrexone
Methylphenidate
Risperidone
Social Behavior
Cholinesterase Inhibitors
Disabled Children
Anti-Anxiety Agents
Oxytocin
Melatonin
Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity

Keywords

  • intellectual disability
  • pharmacotherapy
  • problem behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Pharmacotherapy for mental health problems in people with intellectual disability. / Ji, Na Young; Findling, Robert L.

In: Current Opinion in Psychiatry, Vol. 29, No. 2, 01.03.2016, p. 103-125.

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

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