DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-1777774 ISSN: 0004-282X

Behavioral or neuropsychiatric symptoms of Alzheimer's disease: from psychopathology to pharmacological management

Antonio Lucio Teixeira, Natalia Pessoa Rocha, Jennifer Gatchel
  • Neurology
  • Neurology (clinical)


Neuropsychiatric or behavioral symptoms of dementia encompass a series of disorders, such as anxiety, depression, apathy, psychosis, and agitation, all commonly present in individuals living with dementia. While they are not required for the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD), they are ubiquitously present in all stages of the disease, contributing to negative clinical outcomes, including cognitive decline, functional disability, and caregiver burden. Neuropsychiatric symptoms have been conceptualized not only as risk factors but as clinical markers of decline along the AD spectrum. The concept of “mild behavioral impairment”, the behavioral correlate of mild cognitive impairment, has been proposed within this framework. The first steps in the management of behavioral symptoms in AD involve defining the target and investigating potential causes and/or aggravating factors. Once these factors are addressed, non-pharmacological approaches are preferred as first-line interventions. Following the optimization of anticholinesterase treatments, specific pharmacological approaches (e.g., antidepressants, antipsychotics) can be considered weighing potential side effects.

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