Controlling Aggression in Children with ADHD

In December 2009 the American Journal of Psychiatry published an article by Joseph C. Blader, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Stony Brook, titled “Adjunctive Divalproex Versus Placebo for Children with ADHD and Aggression Refractory to Stimulant Monotherapy.”

The article reports the results of a double-blind study on the use of Depakote® (divalproex) to treat aggression in children with ADHD after a course of stimulant therapy failed to control their aggression. Aggressive behavior is a common problem in children with ADHD. While it is often controlled with RitalinTM or other stimulants, in a substantial number of cases stimulant therapy alone is not sufficient. Dr. Blader and his colleagues found that aggression was controlled in a significantly higher proportion of children receiving Depakote (57%) than in those receiving a placebo (15%), without significant side effects. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

An editorial accompanying the article described the study as “a window into the future of child psychopharmacology,”calling it “one of the few systematic and well-controlled psychopharmacological trials among children and adolescents for adjunctive therapy.”. Dr. Blader received a five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand the study to include a comparison with Risperdal® (risperidone).