Psychotropic medication use for behavioral symptoms of dementia
- Cite this article as:
- Wang, P.S., Brookhart, M.A., Setoguchi, S. et al. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep (2006) 6: 490. doi:10.1007/s11910-006-0051-6
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Behavioral disturbances associated with dementia are common and burdensome. Although no psychotropic medications are currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat such behavioral symptoms, a variety of drug classes are commonly used for these purposes. Atypical antipsychotic medications may be somewhat effective and are generally considered the pharmacologic treatments of choice; however “black box” warnings have recently been added to their labels by the FDA, warning of significantly increased risks of short-term mortality. Older conventional antipsychotic medications may also be somewhat effective but appear to pose risks that can be at least as great as those of the newer atypical drugs. Although antidepressants, benzodiazepines, mood stabilizers, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonists may be considered, particularly in patients with specific types of symptomatology, even less is known about their effectiveness and safety. Also, although various psychotropic medications used for behavioral disturbances in dementia patients may be somewhat effective, they have been increasingly associated with important safety risks.