Risperdal might make my son grow breasts?

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

My 16 year old son was just put on Risperdal by his psychiatrist. Although it has made a remarkable difference I worry as all I see on TV are advertisements regarding some lawsuit over Risperdal. “If you have been on Risperdal and have grown breasts or developed breast leakage call…..” I admit prior to Risperdal I could sum up my son as “an asshole” He was mean, aggressive, failing everything at school and constantly on suspension. He was impossible to live with. Now he is like a new child. His grades are straight B’s, he has friends for the first time, he volunteers to help out. He is just more aware. I used to be scared of him and don’t think I could live another day with him the way he used to be but I don’t wish to harm him either. What should I do?


Dear concerned,

There is a lot of confusion over psychiatric medications, psychiatric diagnosis and psychiatric treatment. Risperdal can increase prolactin which can cause breast growth. There is a blood test your doctor should be following to catch it before it happens because it’s usually reversible if you stop the medication.

There are no side effect free medications. All medications are poisons. But when used in proper doses in an informed way they really can change a person’s life. Your son might end up as president vs. end up in jail. Isn’t that worth the risks?

Medication should never be the only treatment as medication cant substitute for skills; but without the medication, people lack the self-control to use skills.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: I know a woman who was so out of control without medication that she just kept ripping her whole life apart over and over. The medication gave her dry mouth and some constipation, but it was worth the trade.

They tried the same medication on another friend and that guy had such bad side effects he couldn’t function. It was not worth the trade. He found other ways to control his erratic moods swings.

You are always trading one set of problems for another, but what is important is the percentages. If the advantages far outweigh the risks, the risks are worth it. If there is little benefit and the risks are great, it isn’t worth it. You son seems to have a much better life with medication. I would monitor him careful and watch which way the percentages swing.


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at dr.brilliantcliche@yahoo.com and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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3 Responses to Risperdal might make my son grow breasts?

  1. Dr. Brilliant Cliché explains further:

    In order to be FDA approved medications have to show proven efficacy in the area they are being approved for. This doesn’t mean they can’t be effective for other areas but a drug company has to pay to have drugs specifically approved for each application. It’s a huge investment pharmaceutical companies often don’t bother to pay to get them approved for multiple purposes. However, doctors often use the medications “off label” anyway.

    The problem is that insurance companies won’t pay for “off label” use and lawsuits come up for using medications for non-approved purposes. This is crazy as all medications have off label uses. This is the “art of medicine” but now there’s only the business of medicine.
    Insurance companies force doctors not only to use medications in a more limited way than they should be used but also to use the cheapest medication first.
    Sometimes some side effects can be avoided by using newer medications but insurance has higher copays for the newer medication or doesn’t pay for them at all. Many insurances are going for generic only medications.

    The next issue is diagnosis. In order to use Risperdal on label you have to use it for schizophrenia or bipolar. This means your son has to be diagnosed bipolar to get it. Again this is stupid because Risperdal also turns down aggression, lessens reactivity, and unscrambles receptive language issues (wherein he misinterprets others intent as threatening.) Risperdal and Abilify are the only approved medications for developmental delays, which are probably the root of his issues; but people sway away from that diagnosis from misinformation. You can have emotional delays just the same as intellectual ones but these aren’t as testable. The DSM5 is just starting to label these but insurance will lag in covering any new label so Bipolar is the closest. That’s why everyone is diagnosed with Bipolar or ADHD. Emotional delays or processing issues can cause a lack of focus and concentration too but they are better treated with a medication like Risperdal which tones down the emotions vs. Adderall which can heighten them and make people more aggressive. Forget the nuance; the lack of focus is all people often care about. This gets screwed up in treatment all the time.

    For Doctors it is a dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t environment. There is no trust whatsoever in doctors and medicine anymore thus the art of medicine is going extinct.

  2. Ken Bryant says:

    Dear Concerned. Doc B.C. makes sense. The right timing, monitoring, and understanding of when to use medications makes the difference. It also makes sense that all medications have side effects. In contrast, people like Hayes, Eifert, and Forsyth, proponents of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy propose that meditation is often a valid substitute for medication. What they don’t say is that there are side effects to meditation as well. If you are a patient and are new at mindfulness techniques, and do it without feedback or supervision, you can mess up your “frame of reference” and that can damage relationships. Whatever, the treatment, it is important to consult, get supervision, and monitor progress closely.

  3. Dear Ken,
    Meditation is a good thing but there are no panacea’s. It is a tool like medications are tools. There is no reason they cant both be used if indicated. I have yet to see meditation mess up a relationship but I will keep my eyes open for it. Thanks for the heads up. I can imagine using it as an escape or an avoidance might do harm. I have seen people do that with religion and it messed up their relationships. Any tool can be misused.

    Dr. B.C.

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