Mood stabilizers for the treatment of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia: An update review

  • Y.-C. Y
  • W.-C. O
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Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) are common and debilitating problems, but current treatments are limited. Antipsychotic agents show some efficacy on BPSD, but their use is limited by the associated risk of cerebrovascular events and mortality. Reports have shown the efficacy of mood stabilizers on BPSD, but systemic reviews on this issue are scant. This article aims to review studies of the efficacy of mood stabilizers on BPSD, and the quality of the available evidence. We searched for articles published in English during the period 1990 to 2010 and included in the PubMed database that concerned treatment of BPSD with mood stabilizers, such as carbamazepine, valproate, gabapentin, topiramate, lamotrigine, oxcarbazepine and lithium. The quality of the studies was assessed by considering the trial designs, analyses, subjects and results. We found one meta-analysis and three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) supporting the efficacy of carbamazepine in managing global BPSD, particularly aggression and hostility. With regard to valproate, current evidence from one meta-analysis and five RCTs did not strongly support its efficacy for global BPSD, including agitation and aggression. Only open trials or case series showed some efficacy of gabapentin, topiramate and lamotrigine in controlling BPSD. The single RCT investigating the effect of oxcarbazepine on agitation and aggression showed negative results. Case series reports on lithium tended to show it to be ineffective. Thus far, among mood stabilizers, carbamazepine has the most robust evidence of efficacy on BPSD. More RCTs are needed to strengthen evidence regarding the efficacy of gabapentin, topiramate and lamotrigine. Valproate, oxcarbazepine and lithium showed low or no evidence of efficacy. Large and well designed RCTs focusing on specific symptoms of BPSD are needed to deal with the issue. Copyright © 2012, Elsevier Taiwan LLC. All rights reserved.

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Y.-C., Y., & W.-C., O. (2012). Mood stabilizers for the treatment of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia: An update review. Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences. W.-C. Ouyang, Jianan Mental Hospital, No. 80, Lane 870, Jhung-Shan Road, Rende District, Tainan City 71742, Taiwan (Republic of China). E-mail: Elsevier (Singapore) Pte Ltd (3 Killiney Road, 08-01, Winsland House I, Singapore 239519, Singapore). Retrieved from

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