Dementia/Alzheimer: Drugs That Deal With Behavioral and Depressive Symptoms

February 16, 2010 at 2:15 am Leave a comment

Memory loss is the part of dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease that most people think of when dealing with this illness. Sadly, in addition to this problem, there are other disturbing factors. Many of these patients also suffer from depression. It is very important to see a psychiatrist when this is suspected. A common group of drugs used to treat depression are the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, (SSRIs). A simple way of explaining the mechanism of action of these medications is that they provide more serotonin by blocking their reuptake and this helps decrease depression. Some of these drugs are citalopram, fluoxetine, and sertraline.

Another symptom of dementia/Alzheimer’s is behavioral and psychotic behavior. Your psychiatrist can help you with this problem as well. There is a class of drugs known as atypical antipsychotics. These medications are very effective in reducing the behavioral and psychotic problems that are seen in a dementia patient. These drugs, however, are accompanied by a Black Box Warning, that states using this class of drugs can increase the risk of death in elderly patients with dementia. You and your doctor will have to decide if these drugs are suitable for your loved one. It can be a tough decision and we also faced it.

We decided to use these medications because we thought this was the best way to increase the quality of our mother’s life. Since each patient and family is different, it is a very personal decision. Some of these drugs are quetiapine and risperidone. It should be noted that anti-anxiety drugs (alprazolam and lorazepam) can increase dementia and are not routinely used. A psychiatrist should be included in your team of doctors to help you make decisions about treatment for your loved one.

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Entry filed under: Alzheimer, Dementia. Tags: .

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