A naturalistic open-label study of mirtazapine in autistic and other pervasive developmental disorders

D. J. Posey, K. D. Guenin, A. E. Kohn, Naomi Swiezy, C. J. McDougle

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Abstract

Objective: The aim of this study was to conduct a naturalistic, open-label examination of the efficacy and tolerability of mirtazapine (a medication with both serotonergic and noradrenergic properties) in the treatment of associated symptoms of autism and other pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). Methods: Twenty-six subjects (5 females, 21 males; ages 3.8 to 23.5 years; mean age 10.1±4.8 years) with PDDs (20 with autistic disorder, 1 with Asperger's disorder, 1 with Rett's disorder, and 4 with PDDs not otherwise specified were treated with open-label mirtazapine (dose range, 7.5-45 mg daily; mean 30.3±12.6 mg daily). Twenty had comorbid mental retardation, and 17 were taking concomitant psychotropic medications. At endpoint, subjects' primary caregivers were interviewed using the Clinical Global Impressions (CGI) scale, the Aberrant Behavior Checklist, and a side-effect checklist. Results: Twenty-five of 26 subjects completed at least 4 weeks of treatment (mean 150±103 days). Nine of 26 subjects (34.6%) were judged responders ("much improved" or "very much improved" on the CGI) based on improvement in a variety of symptoms including aggression, self-injury, irritability, hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Mirtazapine did not improve core symptoms of social or communication impairment. Adverse effects were minimal and included increased appetite, irritability, and transient sedation. Conclusions: Mirtazapine was well tolerated but showed only modest effectiveness for treating the associated symptoms of autistic disorder and other PDDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-277
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Volume11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

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Autistic Disorder
Checklist
Asperger Syndrome
Rett Syndrome
Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders
Appetite
Aggression
Intellectual Disability
Caregivers
Anxiety
Communication
Depression
mirtazapine
Wounds and Injuries
Therapeutics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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A naturalistic open-label study of mirtazapine in autistic and other pervasive developmental disorders. / Posey, D. J.; Guenin, K. D.; Kohn, A. E.; Swiezy, Naomi; McDougle, C. J.

In: Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, Vol. 11, No. 3, 2001, p. 267-277.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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