Autism is a neural disorder that cannot be treated with medication. However, drugs can prescribed to treat and manage its symptoms. Five major drug categories are regularly used for symptomatic treatment.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), commonly known as anti-depressants, are used to treat anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Some of the FDA-approved SSRI drugs used to treat symptoms of autism that can be administered to children over the age of seven include fluoxetine (Prozac™), fluvoxamine (Luvox™), sertraline (Zoloft™), and clomipramine (Anafranil™).
Anti psychotics (old)
Older anti-psychotic drugs like Haloperidol, Chlorpromazine, Thioridazine, and Fluphenazine help in the treatment of behavioral disorders by controlling the intensity of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. However, some of these drugs have side effects like sedation, muscle stiffness, and abnormal movements.
Anti psychotics (new)
Newer anti-psychotic drugs like Risperidone have proven effective in treating aggression and self-injury inflicting behavior with fewer side effects. The most prevalent side effect of Risperidone has been increased appetite resulting in weight gain. Other effective antipsychotic drugs include Zyprexa and Geodon. Another moderately prescribed drug for controlling hypertensive behavior is Clonidine.
Anti-convulsants control seizures. Since one in every four autistic patients has seizures, the use of anti-convulsants sometimes becomes imperative in managing symptoms. Drugs such as carbamazepine (Tegretol), lamotrigine (Lamictal), topiramate (Topamax), or valproic acid (Depakote) are some of the most widely used anti-convulsants. However, these drugs can only reduce the seizures instead of eliminating them and have side effects.
Stimulants control and treat the autistic tendencies of inattention and hyperactivity. Drugs such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) are prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and prove sufficiently competent in treating similar symptoms of autism.
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