According to a study recently published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, the newest generation of antipsychotic medications can cause rapid weight gain and metabolic changes in young children and adolescents. These side effects could lead to diabetes and hypertension. On average, the patients in the study gained one to one and a half pounds per week. One expert, Dr. Wayne Goodman, said that, "the degree of weight gain is alarming." Dr. Goodman is the chairman of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, as well as head of an FDA advisory panel on antipsychotic drugs. Previous studies had detected the drugs’ influence on weight and metabolism, but this recent study demonstrated that the speed and magnitude of the effects were greater than previously known.
The study involved 257 patients, ages 4-19 and the four most popular antidepressants, Abilify, Risperdal, Zyprexa and Seroquel. The drugs are used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Of the four drugs, Zyprexa had the most severe effects on weight and metabolism. The study was the largest of childhood use of these drugs called atypical antipsychotics. Only 2 of the 4 drugs studied, Abilify and Risperdal, are approved for pediatric use. According to one expert, "more than 70% of atypical antipsychotic use in young children and teenagers has been off-label prescriptions for non-psychotic conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder."