A Narrative Review of Studies Comparing Efficacy and Safety of Citalopram with Atypical Antipsychotics for Agitation in Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD)

Pharmacy (Basel). 2022 Jun 6;10(3):61. doi: 10.3390/pharmacy10030061.


Background: Psychomotor agitation as part of the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) is one of the common issues found in aged care facilities. The current inadequate management strategies lead to poor functional and medical outcomes. Psychotropic interventions are the current preferred treatment method, but should these medications be the prescribers' first preference? This review aims to compare pharmacological interventions for psychomotor agitation, judging them according to their effectuality and justifiability profiles. This is to be achieved by retrieving information from Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) and systematic reviews.

Objectives: This review evaluates evidence from RCTs, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses of BPSD patients who have taken agitation treatments. Assessing the efficacy of citalopram, other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and antipsychotic treatments were compared to each other for the purpose of improving agitation outcomes and lowering patient side effects.

Methods: This review includes RCT that compared citalopram with one or more atypical antipsychotics or with a placebo, along with systematic reviews comparing citalopram (SSRI) with antipsychotics such as quetiapine, olanzapine, and risperidone. Studies were extracted by searching and accessing databases, such as PubMed, OVID, and Cochrane with restrictions of date from 2000 to 2021 and published in the English language.

Conclusion: There are still a limited number of studies including SSRIs for the treatment of agitation in BPSD. SSRIs such as citalopram were associated with a reduction in the symptoms of agitation, and lower risk of adverse effects when compared to antipsychotics. Future studies are required to assess the long-term safety and efficacy of SSRI treatments for agitation in BPSD.

Keywords: BPSD; SSRIs; agitation; antipsychotics; citalopram; dementia.

Publication types

  • Review

Grant support

This research received no external funding.