Pharmacotherapy in children with learning disabilities

Diagnosis of learning disabilities is a general entity and as such is imprecise since it includes a broad spectrum of various diagnostic criteria in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry. For example, it includes ADHD, specific learning disorders, conduct disorders, mental retardation, depressive disorders, stress disorder and adjustment disorders, neurotic and somatoform disorders, attachment disorders etc. For that reason it is crucial to establish a precise diagnosis, make an adequate schooling plan in cooperation with parents, child and school, and start psychotherapy if necessary. If such procedures are not sufficient, medicament therapy may be considered. The most common reason for learning disabilities is ADHD (F90), and in such cases the drugs of choice are psychostimulants (e.g. methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, pemolin). In the past few years a non-stimulant drug used in the treatment of ADHD is atomoxetine – selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. At present there is no medical therapy that would be effective in the treatment of specific learning disorders (F81). If there are other psychiatric disorders with ADHD, such as neurosis, psychotic disorder, affective disorder or other, in addition to psychotherapy a specific, targeted drug can be used (e.g. anxiolitic, neuroleptic, antidepressant etc.). In cases of two or more psychiatric disorders (e.g. ADHD and depressive disorder) in addition to psychostimulants other medication can be used simultaneously (e.g. antidepressant). Prescription and usage of psychiatric drugs in children is a very delicate process, which demands continuous monitoring of therapy effectiveness, adjustment of dosage and detection of possible side effects.
Category: Abstracts
Volume: Vol. 51, No 1, january - march 2007
Authors: N. Jakušić
Reference work:

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