Are doctors prescribing antipsychotic meds too much and too soon? Many studies have shown the increasing use of antipsychotic medications for pediatric patients. And, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2.4 percent of adolescents on Medicaid are prescribed antipsychotic medications.

Medicating too soon?

Pediatricians and psychiatrists from the University of Vermont are startled by the increasing rates of medication to treat behavioral and emotional issues in children. David Rettew, M.D. at the University of Vermont, is concerned that doctors are turning to medication too early to treat problems, such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) in children.
A team of researchers studied 147 doctors who had prescribed antipsychotics to 647 adolescents. The research found that out of the 647 prescriptions of antipsychotic meds for children, half of them failed to meet the criteria for prescribing laid out by the AACAP and FDA. However, most of those that did not meet the criteria only failed to order the correct blood work before prescribing. Over 90 percent prescribed the medication for the correct symptoms, rather than low-level problems.
Though this indicates most doctors are not intentionally over prescribing mental health medication to children, Rettew advocates for increased education and care.

I’m not anti-antipsychotics; I just want to make sure they’re used very carefully,” says Rettew. “These findings could help us design a game plan for measures to improve best-practice prescribing.

The Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reiterates this thinking by advising that “kids who haven’t been diagnosed with major mental illness, such as schizophrenia, but present with other types of behavioral problems, such as aggression, eating disorders or oppositional defiant disorder, receive treatment with these drugs only after other medications or non-pharmacological therapies are tried.”

Wilderness therapy option for oppositional defiant disorder

Though medication might be necessary in some cases, behavioral therapies, such as a wilderness therapy program, can benefit adolescents suffering from a wide range behavioral and emotional issues. From social anxiety to eating disorders to oppositional defiant disorder in children, a wilderness therapy program can provide positive, long-lasting changes.
During a wilderness therapy program, teens are removed from the distractions and destructive habits they’ve found in their life at home. For the first time, they are able to focus on developing and learning in a new environment.
Wilderness therapy programs provide daily internal and external struggles for teens in a supportive, therapeutic environment. With 24-hour care, teens come face to face with their emotional struggles, but not alone. They are guided to identify the root issues and learn new ways to react and cope with strong emotions.

Though some defiant behavior is normal for teen development, consistent emotional outbursts and oppositional defiant disorder in children can be incessant and interfere with their home and school life.

If your son or daughter is struggling with oppositional defiant disorder, emotional outbursts or other mental health issues, wilderness therapy could be a beneficial treatment option.

To see if blueFire would benefit your son or daughter, call us today at 844-413-1999.


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