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Am J Psychiatry. 1996 Nov;153(11):1438-43.

Longitudinal assessment of symptoms of depression, agitation, and psychosis in 181 patients with Alzheimer's disease.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA School of Medicine, USA.



The goal of this study was to define the recurrence or continuation of neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with Alzheimer's disease who were observed serially for a 1-year period.


One hundred eighty-one patients with probable Alzheimer's disease were assessed five times at 3-month intervals with a standardized neuropsychiatric rating instrument.


Recurrence rates of neuropsychiatric symptoms during the 1-year period were 85% for depression, 93% for agitation, and 95% for psychosis. Symptom frequency at any point in time underestimated the cumulative 1-year frequency. Recurrence rates were significantly greater among patients who had multiple symptoms. Women exhibited more symptoms than men. Patients in the oldest age group (76-87 years) had more psychosis, less depression and agitation, and slower cognitive decline. Psychosis was associated with more rapid cognitive decline, and agitation was associated with more rapid functional deterioration.


These results indicate that once psychiatric symptoms are present in patients with Alzheimer's disease, they frequently recur. These symptoms vary with age, sex, and rate of illness progression.

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