A Retrospective Chart Review of Buspirone for the Treatment of Anxiety in Psychiatrically Referred Youth with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder

November 23, 2018

Tolga Atilla Ceranoglu, Janet Wozniak, Ronna Fried, Maribel Galdo, Barbora Hoskova, Melissa DeLeon Fong, Joseph Biederman, Gagan Joshi


Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology 2018 November 16


OBJECTIVES: Anxiety disorders (ADs) are commonly associated with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HF-ASD) and often worsen with age. Buspirone is a commonly prescribed anxiolytic drug with a favorable tolerability profile that may offer potential benefits in anxiety management for patients with HF-ASD. This study examines inadequately explored tolerability and effectiveness of buspirone in treating ADs comorbid with high-functioning ASD.


METHODS: A retrospective chart review of a 1-year period was conducted in psychiatrically referred population of HF-ASD youth with AD (age 8-17 years) who were treated with buspirone (N = 31). Information on the demographics and treatment history was recorded. Effectiveness was assessed through the Clinical Global Impressions Scale (CGI) severity (CGI-S) and improvement (CGI-I) scores noted by the treating clinician.


RESULTS: A total of 31 patients were prescribed buspirone during the determined period, at a mean dose of 41.61 ± 24.10 mg for an average duration of 272 ± 125 days. Change in the CGI-S mean scores with treatment suggests an overall improvement in the severity of anxiety symptoms (MT1  = 4.9 ± 0.7; MT2  = 2.8 ± 0.87; p < 0.001). Significant improvement in anxiety symptoms (CGI-I ≤ 2) was observed in 58% and mild improvement (CGI-I = 3) in 29% of the HF-ASD patients who received buspirone treatment. Buspirone was well tolerated with no adverse events reported by the majority of participants, with the exception of two subjects who developed treatment emergent adverse events (activation and mood lability).


CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this retrospective chart review suggest a promising role of buspirone in managing anxiety among youth with HF-ASD. Further research with prospective and randomized-controlled trials is necessary.


MWW: Buspirone is an underused medicine for anxiety (and for augmenting antidepressants) that is weight neutral and without the risk of behavioral activation or sexual side effects.  Main risks are dose-related and include sedation, queasiness, and dizziness. 

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