Approach Developmentally Disabled with Extra Care. (Take Care in Prescribing)

By Sherman, Carl | Clinical Psychiatry News, April 2002 | Go to article overview

Approach Developmentally Disabled with Extra Care. (Take Care in Prescribing)


Sherman, Carl, Clinical Psychiatry News


NEW YORK -- Diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders in young people with developmental disabilities require special care, Dr. John Pomeroy said at a psychopharmacology update sponsored by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Drug treatment should take into account the ways in which this group differs from others, added Dr. Pomeroy, director of the division of developmental disabilities, State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Over-, under-, and misdiagnosis can be avoided by a thorough assessment of environmental factors and issues pertaining to the developmental deficit.

Psychiatric disorders appear to be significantly more prevalent among the developmentally disabled than in the general population, with rates in the 40% range typical of recent surveys.

Prevalence is highest in the mildly retarded and "becomes less as you move down in intellectual level," Dr. Pomeroy said.

In general, the clinical characteristics of psychiatric disorders are similar to the presentation in nondisabled persons, and diagnosis can be made with few if any modifications of standard criteria. But certain issues of assessment are unique for this group or require special care.

One pitfall is "diagnostic overshadowing," in which a distorted idea of "how mentally retarded people behave" discourages the search for other factors, or truncates investigation into the possibility of psychiatric disorder, Dr. …

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