Drugs used to relieve behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementiaJanuary 20 2012
This factsheet produced by the Alzheimer’s Society explores the different types of drugs that can be used to treat these symptoms if non-pharmalogical treatments have not worked.
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Behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia are very common and usually develop as the disease progresses.
It is important for a GP to assess any person with dementia who develops behavioural and psychological symptoms to establish any possible underlying factors that may have triggered or may be aggravating the person’s symptoms.
Key points to consider:
- Ensure that the person with dementia is physically healthy, comfortable and well cared for.
- Discuss how the person can be supported to lead an active life, with interesting and stimulating daily activities.
- Antipsychotic medication should be considered only once all other non pharmacological interventions have been considered. Refer to NICE Guideline at www.nice.org.uk/guidance/TA217
- There is increasing evidence that for some people the anti-dementia drug memantine may be an effective treatment for behavioural and psychological symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease.
- The cholinesterase inhibitors donepezil, rivastigmine and galantamine may reduce the severity of some behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia and help delay their onset. Cholinesterase inhibitors are especially effective in Lewy body dementia and dementia related to Parkinson’s disease in treating agitation, apathy and psychotic symptoms.