Antipsychotic drugs for children have taken off in the US on the back of a willingness to diagnose those with behavioural problems as having manic depression. Even children barely out of babyhood are getting a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, the modern term for the condition.
The chief symptoms are mood swings, which, however, are common in children of any age.
David Healy, an expert on bipolar disorder, said there were now 2.5 million American children on antipsychotics. However, the UK guidelines on the disorder, from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, urge caution.
One drug which prompted concern was Risperdal, originally to be sold for children with “irritability” or difficult behaviour in autism. It was reviewed by experts for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency because of “concern about the potential misuse of [it] as … long-term chemical control”. The drug’s maker, Janssen-Cilag, though it won a licence for it, withdrew its application, citing differences with the authority…