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Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2005 Mar;8(1):37-48. Epub 2004 Oct 14.

Serotonergic antidepressant effects on aggressive, self-injurious and destructive/disruptive behaviours in intellectually disabled adults: a retrospective, open-label, naturalistic trial.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7175, USA.


There is a growing body of evidence that serotonergic antidepressants are useful in the treatment of maladaptive behaviours in the intellectually disabled. However, not all studies have shown positive results due to lack of efficacy, tolerance development, and troublesome side-effects. The current study consisted of a review of the treatment response to a variety of serotonergic antidepressants, consisting of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs ) (n = 36) and clomipramine (n = 2) in 38 institutionalized intellectually disabled adults (20 males, 18 females; mean age 45.6 yr, age range 18-74 yr). Those studied were treated for aggression, self-injurious behaviours, destructive/disruptive behaviours, depression/dysphoria, or a combination of these or other challenging behaviours. Most were receiving concurrent psychotropic and/or anticonvulsant medications. Effectiveness was determined by a retrospective review of the summaries of multidisciplinary Neuropsychiatric Behavioural Reviews (NBRs) in which global and specific maladaptive behaviours were rated on a 1- to 7-point scale, and by psychologists' ratings of target behaviours. Overall, statistically significant decreases in the ratings of global maladaptive behaviour and aggression, self-injurious behaviour, destruction/disruption and depression/dysphoria and in psychologists' ratings occurred in the subject group after the initiation of antidepressants. The results suggest that serotonergic antidepressants are useful in the treatment of challenging/maladaptive behaviours in the intellectually disabled.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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