Current Psychiatry Reports

, 21:123 | Cite as

Understanding Chronic Aggression and Its Treatment in Children and Adolescents

  • Selena R. Magalotti
  • Mandy Neudecker
  • Solomon G. Zaraa
  • Molly K. McVoyEmail author
Child and Adolescent Disorders (TD Benton, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Child and Adolescent Disorders


Purpose of review

Youth aggression is common and has a significant burden on individuals, families, and society. However, its treatment is often a challenge for clinicians. Thus, this review will examine the current understanding of youth aggression, conceptualize aggression as a symptom rather than its own disorder, and provide an overview of treatment strategies.

Recent findings

Youth aggression is associated with complex genetic, neurobiological, and environmental risks. Prevention strategies are of the utmost importance for at-risk families and youth. Psychosocial interventions are the first line treatment. But if not fully effective, then pharmacologic interventions—including psychostimulants, alpha-2 agonists, atomoxetine, and risperidone—have shown benefits. Other medications, such as SSRIs, can be useful in certain scenarios.


It is important to conceptualize youth aggression as being a trans-diagnostic symptom in psychopathology. Determining the underlying cause of aggression will help to guide treatment.


Aggression ADHD Conduct ODD Antipsychotic Stimulant Pediatric Treatment 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Selena R. Magalotti
    • 1
  • Mandy Neudecker
    • 1
  • Solomon G. Zaraa
    • 1
  • Molly K. McVoy
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity Hospitals Cleveland Medical CenterClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Case Western University School of MedicineClevelandUSA
  3. 3.W. O. Walker Building, Division of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryClevelandUSA

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