From the PAL Psychiatrist
Antipsychotic Use in Primary Care
The use of second generation antipsychotics in the pediatric population is commonplace on inpatient psychiatric units and outpatient psychiatric clinics. Should this class of medications be in the primary care provider’s “toolbox” of medications for their patients with behavioral and/or mood symptoms when the first and second-line medications fail?
There are currently seven second generation, or atypical, antipsychotics approved for use in children and adolescents. These include risperidone (irritability associated with autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder), aripiprazole (irritability associated with autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder), quetiapine (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), olanzapine (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), lurasidone (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), paliperidone (schizophrenia), and asenapine (bipolar disorder).
The child or adolescent with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder is typically having medications managed by a psychiatric provider. However, children with autism spectrum disorder and major depressive disorder are often managed by primary care.
You may notice that augmentation of a SSRI medication with a second generation antipsychotic such as aripiprazole for major depression is not an FDA-approved use for adolescents. This use is only FDA approved for adults, so this would be off-label use, but also a reasonable strategy for augmenting treatment of depression in adolescent patients in the primary care clinic. I have found this to be helpful in adolescents who have partial benefit from SSRI or SNRI medication, but with residual symptoms of depression, especially irritability. A typical starting dose of aripiprazole for antidepressant augmentation is 1mg, which can be titrated to 2-5mg... (click below for full article)