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Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2010 Apr;18(2):184-201. doi: 10.1037/a0018059.

Psychopharmacology of aggression in children and adolescents with primary neuropsychiatric disorders: a review of current and potentially promising treatment options.

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Department of Psychology, Jackson State University, Mississippi, USA.


Research examining the role of pharmacological therapy in the treatment of children and adolescents with clinical disorders is growing. Clinical disorders that present with comorbid aggression can add a challenge to treatment. Child and adolescent neuropsychiatric disorders associated with aggression include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, various mood disorders and in particular bipolar disorders/pediatric mania, schizophrenia, mental retardation, oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and autism spectrum disorders. This review describes the psychopharmacy to treat these disorders and the aggression that often appears comorbidly. Existing literature regarding the efficacy and safety of psychotropics for youth with neuropsychiatric disorders also is discussed. In addition, general guidelines for psychopharmacy of aggression in children and adolescents are presented. Studies reviewed in this article provide evidence for the use of psychostimulants, alpha-2 agonists, beta blockers, lithium, anticonvulsant mood-stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, traditional antipsychotics, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in treating pediatric aggression with the choice of medication dependent on symptomology. Despite increased support for pediatric psychotropic use, there is a need for more long-term safety and efficacy studies of existing medications and newer, safer, and more effective agents with fewer side effects for the pharmacological treatment of all childhood disorders in which aggression is prominent.

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