Prescribing psychotropic drugs to adults with an intellectual disability

Julian N. Trollor, Carmela Salomon, Catherine Franklin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Mental illness is common in people with intellectual disability. They may also have physical health problems which can affect their mental state. Difficulties in communication can contribute to mental health problems being overlooked. These may present with changes in behaviour. Psychological management is usually preferable to prescribing psychotropic drugs. Behavioural approaches are the most appropriate way to manage challenging behaviour. If a drug is considered, prescribers should complete a thorough diagnostic assessment, exclude physical and environmental contributions to symptoms, and consider medical comorbidities before prescribing. Where possible avoid psychotropics with the highest cardiometabolic burden. Prescribe the minimum effective dose and treatment length, and regularly monitor drug efficacy and adverse effects. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychotropics for challenging behaviour. They should be avoided unless the behaviour is severe and non-responsive to other treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-130
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Prescriber
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • antipsychotic drug therapy
  • genetic syndrome
  • intellectual disability


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