Friday, September 22, 2006

The American Psychological Association and Drugs for Kids

The American Psychological Association released a gargantuan 246 page report on the use of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for children and adolescents. It's nice to see that the organization that is so devoted to getting psychologists to prescribe medication is actually, on the other hand, also releasing a report that points out many of the evidence gaps in treating children with psychotropic medications. The majority of child psychiatry practice relies on clinical folklore rather than evidence, unfortunately. However, psychological interventions for many disorders also haven't shown a lot more efficacy than placebo interventions (but at least they seem quite a bit safer than meds). I've not had the time to read the report in its entirety, but I did like one section of text quite a bit:

"It is ironic that the specific advantages of available treatments, whether psychosocial or psychopharmacological, for depressed youth are small compared with the “nonspecific” effects of placebo and other supportive comparison treatments. It could be argued that more resources are warranted to investigate and train practitioners in the “nonspecifics” of the therapeutic alliance, support, exposure, and problem-solving skills that seem to cut across many treatments. It could also be argued that “watchful waiting” may be appropriate for some youth who present with milder symptoms of depression (pg. 117)."

Full text here and a press release summarizing the findings here.

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