Pharmacologic Treatment of Apathy in Dementia

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Apathy in patients with dementia is common, underrecognized, and undertreated. We sought to improve understanding of the pharmacologic treatment of apathy in dementia by performing a systematic literature review of studies that used apathy outcome scales to document results of pharmacologic treatments for apathy. There is limited evidence of efficiency of pharmacotherapy for treatment of apathy in dementia. The best results were found for acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. There was some evidence of efficacy for memantine, but less evidence of efficacy for stimulants, calcium antagonists, and antipsychotics. There was no evidence to support the use of antidepressants or anticonvulsants. The research quality of studies was modest. Recommendations for standardizing research and for holistic evaluation and treatment are provided.

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