Psychotropic drug use in community-dwelling people with young-onset dementia: two-year course and determinants

Aging Ment Health. 2021 Jan;25(1):179-186. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2019.1691145. Epub 2019 Nov 20.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to describe the course of psychotropic drug use in people with young-onset dementia and to explore possible associations with age, sex, dementia severity, dementia subtype and neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Methods: Psychotropic drug use was studied in 198 community-dwelling persons participating in the Needs in Young-onset Dementia study. Data about psychotropic drug use were retrieved at baseline, as well as at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months and was classified into five groups (antiepileptics, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, hypnotics/sedatives and antidepressants) and quantified as 'present' or 'absent'. Generalized Estimating Equation modeling and chi-square tests were used to study associations between the determinants and psychotropic drug use.

Results: There was a statistically significant increase in the prevalence of psychotropic drug use from 52.3% to 62.6% during the course of the study. Almost three-quarters (72.4%) of the participants were treated with any psychotropic drug during the study, and more than one-third (37.4%) received psychotropic drugs continuously. Antipsychotics were used continuously in more than 10% of the participants and antidepressants in more than 25%. Increasing age was positively associated (p = .018) with psychotropic drug use at baseline, while apathy symptoms were negatively associated (p = .018).

Conclusions: Despite the recommendations of various guidelines, the prolonged use of psychotropic drugs in community-dwelling people with young-onset dementia is high. Therefore, more attention is needed to timely evaluate psychotropic drug use and the introduction of self-management programs for caregivers should be encouraged to support caregivers in dealing with the neuropsychiatric symptoms caused by the dementia.

Keywords: Young-onset dementia; community dwelling; psychotropic drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antipsychotic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Dementia* / drug therapy
  • Dementia* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Psychotropic Drugs