A Naturalistic Study of Trazodone in the Treatment of Behavioral Complications of Dementia

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Altered serotonin transmission has been associated with behavioral complications of degenerative dementia. This study examined whether trazodone, a serotonergic antidepressant, may be useful in treating behavioral syndromes associated with dementia. Twenty-two dementia patients with behavioral problems were treated with trazodone (mean daily dose 172 ± 107 mg; mean duration 20 days). Seventy of cognitive impairment and behavioral symptoms were rated using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Global Assessment Scale, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, and the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale. A global assessment of improvement was made by chart review. Mean scores, with the exception of the MMSE, improved modestly but significantly between admission and discharge. Chart review of target symptoms revealed that 82% of the patients showed moderate-to-marked improvement on discharge, with most able to return to their preadmission residence. Trazodone was generally well tolerated except for occasional mild sedation effects. Results suggest that trazodone may be a useful alternative to neuroleptics or benzodiazepines in treating behavior problems in some demented patients.

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