Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Many Children in Mental Health Treatment Medicated for Insomnia

Parents and their children are both increasingly turning to the medicine cabinet to meet their sleep needs. One specific population of school-aged kids and adolescents seems to be the most medicated for sleep. Nearly a third of children in therapy for psychiatric or behavioral disorders are treated for insomnia using prescription and over-the-counter medications, a new study suggests.

Nearly all of the 1,300 participating members of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry said they prescribed at least one sleep medication per month. About 88 percent said they recommended over-the-counter treatments for insomnia.

Recommended medications included antihistamines and the antidepressant trazadone, which is often prescribed off-label for insomnia. Clinicians surveyed in the study also prescribed drugs with psychiatric or behavioral effects such as antipsychotics and anticonvulsants for insomnia.

The principal author of the study notes that most often the sleep medications are used to manage the effects of sleep disruption on daytime functioning. The average participating psychiatrist reported seeing about 70 children per month. Older children were more frequently treated for insomnia.

While most insomnia patients were older than six years old, clinical psychiatrists reported more than 20 percent of preschool-aged patients were affected by insomnia.

The complete study will be published in the August 1st issue of Sleep Medicine.

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