Send to

Choose Destination
Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2018 Dec;19(17):1875-1889. doi: 10.1080/14656566.2018.1529167. Epub 2018 Oct 10.

Pharmacotherapy of Down syndrome.

Author information

a Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School , Lurie Center for Autism , Lexington , MA , USA.
b Nancy Lurie Marks Professor in the Field of Autism, Harvard Medical School, Director , Lurie Center for Autism , Lexington , MA , USA.


Introduction: Comorbid psychiatric disorders are common in Down syndrome (DS). Evidence for pharmacotherapy of psychiatric co-morbidity in DS is limited. Areas covered: This article reviews the literature on the pharmacotherapy of psychiatric conditions co-occurring with DS, including major depressive disorder (MDD), bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), psychosis, and catatonia. A section on the phenomenon of regression is included. Expert opinion: For MDD, we typically begin with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). For bipolar disorder, we often use carbamazepine. For psychotic symptoms, we begin with risperidone or aripiprazole. We use buspirone to treat anxiety. For obsessional slowness/OCD, we begin with an SSRI. For stereotypical repetitive behavior, we tend to use buspirone. For ADHD, we begin with guanfacine. For irritability of comorbid ASD, we use risperidone or aripiprazole. For dementia in DS, we refer to a neurologist for medical work-up and medication management. We treat catatonia-like 'regression' with lorazepam. If ineffective, we use memantine or clozapine. Electroconvulsive therapy is considered if pharmacotherapy is ineffective. We treat 'regression' with symptoms of MDD ± psychosis, with an antidepressant and an antipsychotic if needed. Randomized controlled trials of medications for comorbid psychiatric disorders in DS are warranted.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; Down syndrome; autism spectrum disorder; catatonia; dementia; mood disorders; obsessive-compulsive disorder; psychopharmacology; psychosis; regression

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis
Loading ...
Support Center