Empirical evidence for the use of lithium and anticonvulsants in children with psychiatric disorders

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Amines; Anticonvulsants; Antimanic Agents; Carbamazepine; Child; Cyclohexanecarboxylic Acids; Drug Therapy; *Empirical Research; Fructose; Humans; Lithium Carbonate; Mental Disorders; Triazines; Valproic Acid; gamma-Aminobutyric Acid




BACKGROUND: The use of psychotropic medications-in particular, mood stabilizers--in youths with psychiatric illness has grown. There are trends toward polypharmacy and the increased use of newer mood stabilizers in youths with psychiatric illness despite a paucity of studies examining the short- and long-term efficacy and safety of these agents in the pediatric population.

METHOD: PubMed was used to identify peer-reviewed publications from the past 30 years (January 1975 to August 2005) studying lithium and anticonvulsants in youths with psychiatric illness.

RESULTS: Evidence supporting the use of lithium and valproate in the treatment of juvenile bipolar disorder and reactive aggression has grown. Evidence for the use of other anticonvulsants in youths with psychiatric illness is sparse. Side effects from lithium and anticonvulsants are typically mild to moderate. Data are accumulating in regard to the longer-term safety of lithium and DVPX in the juvenile psychiatric population. Although data in regard to the newer anticonvulsants are limited, they may have more desirable side-effect profiles.

CONCLUSION: Double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of lithium and anticonvulsants are greatly needed as clinical use of these agents has risen without sufficient evidence supporting their efficacy in the pediatric population.

DOI of Published Version



Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2006 Nov-Dec;14(6):285-304. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Harvard review of psychiatry

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID