[Recognition and Treatment of Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementias: Lessons From the CATIE-AD Study]

Neuropsychopharmacol Hung. 2008 Oct;10(4):233-49.
[Article in Hungarian]


The prevalence of the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) varies between 20-90%, depending on the care settings and severity of the dementia syndrome. BPSD is the major reason for referrals to secondary care. It exacerbates the dementia-associated morbidity and mortality rates. Furthermore, while BPSD is not a properly defined syndrome, it frequently induces psychic and somatic complaints in caregivers. The social and economic impacts of the BPSD far outweigh the importance of the cognitive symptoms of dementia. The aim of this review is to present the most recent findings regarding the recognition, differential diagnosis, aetiology, and pathomechanism of BPSD with a special focus on the local therapeutic possibilities with the atypical antipsychotics. Of utmost importance is the process of identifying the complex bio-psycho-social aetiological factors in parallel with defining the treatment strategies. Only after the correct recognition of the potential aetiology, non-pharmacological interventions are recommended to start with as first choice treatment in mild and mild-to-moderate BPSD, while in moderate and severe cases pharmacotherapeutic approaches are recommended from the start. Recent findings of neuropathological, neurochemical and neuroimaging studies yielded unequivocal evidence that the BPSD symptoms are not a consequence of a single neurotransmitter imbalance, but rather of disproportionate level changes in biogenic amines, excitatory and inhibitory transmitters in the central nervous system. Consequently, the available pharmacotherapy should target the balancing of the dopaminergic, serotoninergic, noradrenergic, excitatory and GABAergic neurotransmission by using antipsychotics, antidepressants, phase-prophylactic agents, and benzodiazepines. Several clinical studies have proven the efficacy of atypical antipsychotics that target multiple neurotransmitter systems in treating BPSD. The first results of the CATIE-AD study also confirm these findings and indicate that the atypical antipsychotics are effective in controlling anger, aggression and delusions in Alzheimer's disease, while cognitive symptoms, quality of life and care needs are not improved.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Aggression
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Caregivers
  • Conduct Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Conduct Disorder / drug therapy
  • Conduct Disorder / epidemiology
  • Conduct Disorder / mortality
  • Conduct Disorder / pathology
  • Conduct Disorder / psychology
  • Conduct Disorder / therapy*
  • Dementia / complications*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dopamine Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Respite Care
  • Risperidone / therapeutic use
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Dopamine Antagonists
  • Risperidone