Trends in Antipsychotic Medication Use in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults

July 1, 2015

New York, NY July 1, 2015.  Despite concerns that use of antipsychotic medications in treating young people has increased, use actually declined between 2006 and 2010 for children ages 12 and under, and increased for adolescents and young adults.

In a study published today in JAMA Psychiatry, Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, of Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and NYS Psychiatric Institute, and his colleagues analyzed prescription data from 2006-2010 to identify trends in the use of antipsychotic medications in young people in the United States.

They found that boys are more likely than girls to be given prescriptions for antipsychotics. Approximately 1.5% of boys 10 to 18 years of age received an antipsychotic prescription in 2010. Most of this use appears to be for clinical diagnoses such as ADHD and disruptive behavior disorders, which fall outside of FDA- approved indications.  Dr. Olfson noted that, “Relatively few of these young people are receiving psychotherapy. We may need to put greater effort into increasing access to psychosocial interventions that can treat symptoms and behaviors that are currently being addressed with antipsychotic medications.”


To speak with the Dr. Olfson, please contact Rachel Yarmolinsky, Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, 646-774-5353 or;

The paper is entitled “Treatment of Young People with Antipsychotic Medications in the United States.” The authors are Mark Olfson, MD, MPH; Marissa King, PhD; and Michael Schoenbaum, PhD.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

The study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health with funding from contract HHSN271201400712P. Dr. Olfson also receives support from New York State Psychiatric Institute. 

Columbia University Department of Psychiatry & NYS Psychiatric Institute

Columbia Psychiatry is ranked among the best departments and psychiatric research facilities in the nation and has contributed greatly to the understanding and treatment of psychiatric disorders. Located at the New York State Psychiatric Institute on the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center campus in northern Manhattan, the department enjoys a rich and productive collaborative relationship with physicians in various disciplines at Columbia University’s College of Physician’s and Surgeons. Columbia Psychiatry is home to distinguished clinicians and researchers noted for their clinical and research advances in the diagnosis and treatment of depression, suicide, schizophrenia, bipolar and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and childhood psychiatric disorders. Columbia Psychiatry’s extraordinary scientific base is supported by more federal grants than any other psychiatry department in the nation.   Visit for more information.


InPsych - July 2015, Press Releases