Study shows placebos as good as antipsychotics for the intellectually disabled.
Scientists have discovered that taking a sugar pill is more effective than routine medications in treating aggression in people with intellectual disabilities. Until now, patients with intellectual disabilities have been prescribed antipsychotic drugs — normally given to people with a psychiatric disease like schizophrenia — to treat aggressive behaviour such as head banging. But evidence for the drugs’ effectiveness has been thin.
“Antipsychotic drugs are widely used because they are cheap and at high doses they sedate people,” says Eric Emerson at Lancaster University, an expert in the behaviour of intellectually disabled people.
Peter Tyrer, based at Imperial College London, led an international research project looking at 86 people with intellectual disability at clinics across England, Wales and at one centre in Australia. Patients being treated for aggressive behaviour randomly received one of two antipsychotic drugs — respiridone or haloperidol — or a placebo.