What's in a Name? Moving to Neuroscience-Based Nomenclature in Pediatric Psychopharmacology

Ryan S. Sultan, Christoph U. Correll, Joseph Zohar, Gil Zalsman, Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial


Our traditional names for psychotropic medication classes lead to unnecessary confusion. As clinicians, we have grown comfortable with idiosyncratic names of psychotropic medications and have forgotten how unclear and misleading they can be. For example, evidence shows that serotonin reuptake inhibitors help in pediatric anxiety disorders, but a parent with an anxious child might ask, “If you diagnosed my son with separation anxiety, why are you giving him an antidepressant?” Another parent might object to the use of a “stimulant” medication, “My daughter never slows down, the last thing she needs is a stimulant!” Similarly, an “antipsychotic” can be prescribed on-label to youth with mania, bipolar depression, tics, or irritability in autism but families and patients might be confused by or object to the implied label of being “psychotic.” Furthermore, patients or family members may not feel comfortable asking clarifying questions and simply do not return for follow up—concluding that the provider does not understand their child.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-721
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018


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