. . . these days atypical antipsychotics — the most popular are Seroquel, Zyprexa and Abilify — are being prescribed by psychiatrists and primary-care doctors to treat a panoply of conditions for which they have not been approved, including anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, sleep difficulties, behavioral problems in toddlers and dementia. These new drugs account for more than 90 percent of the market and have eclipsed an older generation of antipsychotics. Two recent reports have found that youths in foster care, some less than a year old, are taking more psychotropic drugs than other children, including those with the severest forms of mental illness. . .
. . . Physicians, he said, have a financial incentive to prescribe drugs, widely regarded as a much quicker fix than a time-intensive evaluation and nondrug treatments such as behavior therapy, which might not be covered by insurance. . . .
. . . Scully suggests that a key factor driving use of the drugs, in addition to “intense marketing and some effectiveness,” is the growing number of non-psychiatrists prescribing them. Many lack the expertise and experience necessary to properly diagnose and treat mental health problems, he said. . . .
. . . In one Northern California nursing home in 2006 and 2007, 22 residents, many suffering from dementia, were given antipsychotics for the convenience of the staff or because the residents refused to go to the dining room. In some cases the drugs were forcibly injected, state officials said. Three residents died. . . .
. . . Mark E. Helm, a Little Rock pediatrician who was a medical director of Arkansas’s Medicaid evidence-based prescription drug program from 2004 to 2010, said he had seen 18-month-olds being given potent antipsychotic drugs for bipolar disorder, an illness he said rarely develops before adolescence. Antipsychotics, which he characterized as the fastest-growing and most expensive class of drugs covered by the state’s Medicaid program, were typically prescribed to children to control disruptive behavior, which often stemmed from their impoverished, chaotic or dysfunctional families, Helm said. “Sedation is the key reason these meds get used,” he observed. . . .
Some aspects of the modern world are wonderful; others, not so much. Assuming the pendulum will swing back away from overuse of drugs, I hope music therapy will have matured enough by then to be part of the answer to developing less drug dependent therapies.