This study compared the therapeutic efficacy of thioridazine, loxapine, and a placebo in the treatment of behavioral disturbances in nursing home patients with dementia. Antipsychotic medications were effective for the specific behavioral problems of anxiety, excitement, emotional lability, and uncooperativeness. Subjects with the most severe symptoms at baseline assessment derived the greatest benefit from treatment. Sedation, extrapyramidal symptoms, and decreased blood pressure were common side effects among patients treated with the antipsychotic drugs. The authors conclude that antipsychotic medication has a definite but limited therapeutic role in the treatment of behavioral disturbances in nursing home patients with dementia.
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