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Coutesy of: Psychminded.co.uk By Angela Hussain June 15, 2011
Ritalin and other psychotropic medication for children are a “quick fix” and the government should urgently review their use, psychologists have urged.
The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) fears there is insufficient data on the effects such drugs have on child development and the functioning of the developing childrens' brain. Further research is urgently needed, it says to establish the risks. The AEP’s demand is despite the fact that a European Medicines Agency (EMA) investigation into methylphenidate drugs, which include psychotropics Ritalin, Concerta, Equasym, Medikinet and Rubifen – had previously stated that the benefits of such drugs usually outweigh any negative effects for children diagnosed with ADHD and other conduct disorders.. Plus, UK doctors have been advised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence not to prescribe methylphenidate as a first-line treatment for children diagnosed with ADHD.
But the AEP – which represents UK educational psychologists – fears there will be an increase of methylphenidate prescribing because the number of official psychological disorders for children is set to increase. The American Psychiatric Association is working on its 2013 review of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( i.e. DSMV)
in which additional psychological disorders for children are due to be added. These include Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Preschool Children, Temper Dysregulation Disorder with Dysphoria, Callous and Unemotional Specifier for Conduct Disorder, Non-Suicidal Self Injury, and Non-Suicidal Self Injury,Shyness and Sadness all not previously specified.
“These could lead to more young people being referred for treatment with these psychotropic medications,” said Kate Fallon, AEP’s general secretary. She said: “There is a danger that we rely on the ‘quick fix’ for children with conditions such as ADHD, which frequently means the prescription of medication such as Ritalin instead of a number of other possible interventions.” Medicine regulators in European member states had in 2007 requested EMA’s mediation because of concerns over cardiovascular and cerebrovascular effects of methylphenidate – such as heart rate and blood pressure increases and sudden heart attack. A review was carried out by the EMA’s committee for medicinal products for human use. It was based on reported side effects and all studies on methylphenidate since the fifties. The committee also investigated any link between methylphenidate and psychiatric problems, reduced growth and sexual maturation. An urgent restriction to methylphenidate prescribing was not needed, the committee concluded but there were issues needing to be addressed such as more rigorously applying the NICE guidelines in the U.K. especially for stopping the prescribing to the under sixes.
The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) considers that a national review into the use of psychotropic drugs, such as Ritalin, on school aged children in the UK is urgently needed.
This is in agreement with the views publicly expressed by individual educational psychologists and the British Psychological Society (BPS).
The AEP has significant concerns that the neurological impact of psychotropic drugs on the developing brains of children has not been fully researched. The potential damage that such drugs could cause needs further investigation.
The AEP is also concerned about child treatment with psychotropics ahead of the introduction of new diagnostic criteria, DSM5, in 2013. These criteria will result in more inclusive definitions of mental health, and could consequently lead to more young people being referred for treatment with these medications
Therefore, prior to the introduction of DSM5, the AEP calls on the Government to urgently establish a national review into the standard intervention practices for children and young people considered to have issues of mental health – and further calls for this review to consider seriously the potential damage caused by psychotropics when contrasted with other available therapies.