A New Treatment for Disruptive Mood Dysregulation

December 26, 2017 · Posted in Potential Treatments · Comment 

disruptive boy

The 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the DSM-5, included a new diagnosis of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. Children with persistent, severe temper outbursts and irritable or angry moods that are out of proportion to circumstances may be diagnosed with the disorder. However, there is not much specificity to the diagnosis and few treatment studies have been done to help clinicians and parents determine how to manage symptoms of the disorder.

A poster presented at the 2017 Psych Congress reported that a medication protocol consisting of an anticonvulsant drug to stabilize moods and temper outbursts and a dopamine agonist to reduce irritability, impulsivity, and concentration problems reduced rates of re-hospitalization. The retrospective study by researchers D. Matthews and G. Matthews included 91 children and adolescents who were prescribed the anticonvulsant oxcarbazepine and the dopamine agonist amantadine following hospitalization for severe aggression, mood instability, and impulsivity. Those who stuck to the regimen with minimal changes for one year had an 8% re-hospitalization rate compared to a 26% re-hospitalization rate among those who discontinued the regimen or substituted other drugs.

Editor’s Note: Oxcarbazepine has a long-acting preparation, Oxtellar, that can be given all at night.

Amantadine (Symmetrel) not only is a dopamine agonist used for Parkinson’s disease, but is also an antiviral and a blocker of glutamate NMDA channels. It stabilizes the closed state of the NMDA channel.

Oxcarbazepine May Be Helpful In Pediatric Mania

January 10, 2011 · Posted in Current Treatments, Peer-Reviewed Published Data · Comment 

Oxcarbazepine (OXC; Trileptal) is a close structural relative of carbamazepine (CBZ; Tegretol; Equetro), but unlike CBZ, OXC is not an enzyme inducer, nor does it have CBZ’s risks of rare agranulocytosis or aplastic anemia.

Wagner et al.’s report on OXC in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2006 is typically cited as evidence the drug is ineffective for pediatric mania.  But observe the figure:

Oxcarbazepine in Pediatric Mania

While this was true of OXC’s efficacy in adolescents (due to a large placebo response—see rightmost column), OXC worked significantly better than placebo in children ages 7-12. These younger children often have more chronic presentations and BP-NOS.  This may explain the low placebo response rate in the younger children.

Oxcarbazepine is considered helpful by many clinicians (See Post and Wozniak’s survey of expert treatment approaches to childhood illness, published in Psychiatric Annals in 2009) and should not be dismissed altogether.