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Can J Psychiatry. 1998 Feb;43(1):69-72.

Valproic acid treatment of agitation in dementia.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Ontario.



Valproic acid, an anticonvulsant medication that enhances GABAergic neurotransmission, has been shown to be helpful in treating behavioural disturbances associated with dementia in several small case series. In an attempt to further document its effectiveness and safety, valproic acid was used to treat a group of elderly patients with dementia and severe agitation.


Sixteen patients, aged 68 to 95 years, who were previously unresponsive to other pharmacotherapeutic interventions, were treated prospectively with open-label divalproex sodium. Effectiveness was measured with the Behave AD (B-AD), the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI), and the Clinical Global Impression Scale (CGIS). Doses ranged from 750 to 2500 mg, divided, per day, with levels of 184 to 742 mumol/L.


Scores on the CMAI declined from 68.8 to 61.0 (P < 0.005), and scores on the B-AD declined from 15.8 to 12.3 (P < 0.004). On the CGIS, 1 patient was rated as very much improved, 3 patients were much improved, 4 patients were minimally improved, and 8 patients were unchanged. The drug was prematurely discontinued in only 1 patient because of side effects.


Valproic acid was shown to be well tolerated with modest effectiveness.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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