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Child mental health experts issue psychiatric medication treatment guidelines for preschoolers
Date:12/3/2007

vailable data on school-age children and adolescents, and expert clinical experience.

The algorithms guide the clinician through recommended assessment and treatment steps. The first step in each algorithm is a comprehensive diagnostic assessment, taking into consideration the childs emotional and behavioral symptoms, relationship patterns, medical history and developmental history and status.

If a psychiatric diagnosis is confirmed, the authors recommend clinicians start with family-focused psychotherapy such as parent management training or dyadic (parent-child) psychotherapy before considering medication. However, if the child is not responding and medication is deemed necessary, they suggest it be used in conjunction with psychotherapy.

Treatment algorithms were established for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, disruptive behavior disorders, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, pervasive developmental disorders (such as autism), and primary sleep disorders.

These guidelines emphasize the importance of a family-focused assessment by clinicians with experience working with young children, the use of psychotherapy as the first line treatment for young children with severe psychiatric disorders, and the value of careful monitoring of symptoms and side effects when treating young children, said Gleason. They are not intended to promote the use of medications; rather, we anticipate that application of these guidelines may actually reduce the number of preschoolers who are taking psychiatric drugs.

The algorithms share five common factors:

  • Assessment and diagnosis at every decision point in order to reassess the diagnosis and formulation both of which are critical, given the rapid development of preschoolers
  • Psychotherapeutic interventions
  • Each step is marked by the level of evidence supporti
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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
401-432-1328
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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