Improved Metabolic and Psychiatric Outcomes with Discontinuation of Atypical Antipsychotics in Youth Hospitalized in a State Psychiatric Facility

Leslie Hulvershorn, Samantha Parkhurst, Shannon Jones, Kristin Dauss, Caitlin Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives: To assess the impact of antipsychotic tapering and discontinuation on measures of metabolic functioning and psychiatric symptom severity in severely impaired youth hospitalized in a psychiatric state hospital. Methods: The study examined psychiatric and metabolic measures in 67 hospitalized children and adolescents (mean age 11.9; 56 with discontinued use of antipsychotics, 10 with continued use of antipsychotics, and 1 started on an antipsychotic) from admission to discharge. Results: Upon admission, 56 youth were tapered off of antipsychotic medications, started on other forms of pharmacotherapy (92.9% were started on medications used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), and received evidence-based behavioral programming and were ultimately discharged from the hospital. The mean duration of treatment was 228 days for the discontinuation group and 204 days for the continuation group. Significant decreases in body mass index [BMI; t(53) = 7.12, p = 0.0001] and BMI percentile [t(53) = 6.73, p = 0.0001] were found from admission to discharge in the antipsychotic discontinuation group. Changes in BMI, BMI percentile, or systolic blood pressure were not found in the group (n = 10) who were maintained on antipsychotics. Both groups experienced a significant increase in their Global Assessment of Functioning score [t(52) = 19.98, p = 0.0001 for discontinued; t(8) = 5.092, p = 0.001 for maintained]. Psychiatric symptom severity scores significantly improved in many subscales relevant to disruptive behaviors and mood disorders for those who were removed from the medications. For those maintained on the antipsychotics, there were fewer changes in psychiatric symptom scores. Conclusion: Discontinuation of atypical antipsychotic medications in conjunction with tailoring treatment to presenting diagnoses resulted in metabolic and psychiatric symptom improvement among severely impaired state hospital inpatient youth. These results serve as a feasibility demonstration that discontinuation of antipsychotics does not provoke psychiatric destabilization, particularly among disruptive behavior disordered youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)897-907
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • antipsychotic
  • child psychiatry
  • inpatient psychiatry
  • metabolic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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