Psychiatric Services 57:63-69, January 2006
Courtesy of the American Psychiatric Association
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Trends in the Use of Psychotropic Medications Among Adolescents, 1994 to 2001
Cindy Parks Thomas, Ph.D., Peter Conrad, Ph.D., Rosemary Casler, M.A. and Elizabeth Goodman, M.D.
Few psychotropic medications are approved for use among children younger than 18 years. Yet previous studies have shown an increase in the use of psychotropic medications among school-age children and adolescents. Most previous studies examined data only up to 1997; therefore, the results predate any impact of changing federal policies and newly marketed medications. This study examined trends in the prescription of psychotropic medications to adolescents aged 14 to 18 years in office-based care in the United States from 1994 to 2001.
RESULTS: Rates of visits that resulted in a psychotropic prescription increased from 3.4 percent in 1994-1995 to 8.3 percent in 2000-2001. These trends were evident for males and females. The average annual growth rates for psychotropic prescriptions were much higher after 1999. Trends were also significant across drug classes. By 2001, one out of ten office visits by adolescent males resulted in a prescription for a psychotropic medication.