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Antidepressants are used to treat depression and anxiety, which are common symptoms in individuals with dementia. According to recent studies, the most successful antidepressant used for treating BPSD in patients is Citalopram (Celexa). It can be as effective as an antipsychotic in the treatment of behavioural and psychological symptoms such as emotional lability, irritability and even psychosis in some patients. It is from the ‘Prozac family’. While there is no conclusive evidence about the effects of Citalopram on physical aggression to date, the studies show promise in this area.

Other antidepressants include:

  • Prozac
  • Paxil
  • Zoloft
  • Sertraline

Side effects of antidepressants

The side effects of antidepressants are much different than that of antipsychotics and there are risks involved such as:

  • Cardiac episodes
  • Drop in sodium level
  • Balance or risk of falls

Other medications sometimes prescribed for treatment of BPSD include:

  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol): an anticonvulsant to treat symptoms of aggression or agitation
  • Trazodone: a sedating antidepressant that could be used for sleep disturbance or agitation – this medication is particularly effective in symptoms associated with Fronto-temporal dementia
  • Benzodiazepines: a form of sedative that may be used if a patient becomes very agitated
  • Hormonal therapies are used for patients with sexual disinhibitions