Psychotropic medication for behaviour problems in people with intellectual disability: a review of the current literature

Saumitra Deb, Gemma Unwin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

51 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: A high proportion of people with intellectual disability have behaviour problems and psychotropic medication is a commonly used management strategy for these behaviours, despite lack of good-quality evidence to support this practice. RECENT FINDINGS: In recent years, one randomized controlled trial among adults and four on children with intellectual disability have been published showing effectiveness of low-dose risperidone in the management of behaviour problems as compared with placebo. Most of these randomized controlled trials are of good quality and included a reasonable number of participants. Most of these studies showed adverse effects, however, somnolence and weight gain particularly being associated with risperidone treatment. Most of the evidence on other psychotropic medications such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antianxiety drugs and opioid antagonists is difficult to interpret because it is based primarily on small case studies. SUMMARY: There is growing evidence in support of some antipsychotic medication, particularly the atypical antipsychotic, risperidone. Many of the studies of effectiveness included in this review have methodological flaws however. Therefore, the results need to be interpreted with caution. Furthermore, the paucity of evidence for some groups of medication does not necessarily mean that these medications are ineffective, but rather that their use is not currently supported by good-quality research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-466
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2007


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