The use of atypical antipsychotic medications has been reported to be increased in adolescent psychiatric outpatients and to include many patients with non-psychotic disorders. This study examined the correlates of antipsychotic usage in adolescent inpatients and compared their characteristics with a sample of adolescent inpatients who did not receive antipsychotics during their hospitalisation. A total of 159 consenting consecutive patients treated with atypical antipsychotic medications were compared with 150 patients who were admitted during the same time period and not treated with antipsychotics. The samples were compared for demographic factors, clinical diagnoses, clinical symptoms at admission and other medications received during their inpatient stay. Sex and ethnicity did not differ significantly as a function of antipsychotic mediation status. Significantly few patients with an admission diagnosis of major depression received antipsychotic medications and more patients with admission diagnosis of bipolar and/or conduct disorder were treated with antipsychotic medications. Clinical symptom differences and additional medications received were consistent with the differences in admission diagnoses. Despite the fact that significantly fewer patients with major depression received antipsychotic medications, 47% of the patients who did receive antipsychotic medications in this study had an admission diagnosis of major depression. There are several differences between these inpatient data and previous studies of outpatient claims databases, the majority of adolescent inpatient cases treated with antipsychotic medications had admission diagnoses consistent with both adult indications and previous research with adolescent patients. These data suggest an urgent need to study the safety and efficacy of atypical antipsychotic medications on aspects of depression in adolescents.
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