Prescribed psychotropic medications are not being misused or overused among U.S. youth, according to a study using nationally representative data sponsored by NIMH. The study was published December 3, 2012, online ahead of print in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
Psychotropic medications affect the brain chemicals associated with mood and behavior. Some studies and media reports have raised concerns about their use among youth. However, much of the concern stems from information found in anecdotal reports, small clinical samples, or insurance databases rather than on representative samples of U.S. youth with clinical assessments of emotional and behavioral disorders. Studies from regional community samples have found widely varying rates, which can lead to skewed perceptions. For example, different studies have found a wide range of stimulant medication use for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—from 7 percent to 72 percent—likely due to methodological and regional differences. As a result, it has been difficult to get a clear, accurate understanding of medication use among youth.