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Lancet Neurol. 2005 Nov;4(11):735-42.

Behavioural changes and psychological symptoms in dementia disorders.

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Institute for Ageing and Health, Wolfson Research Centre, Newcastle General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.


The traditional view of dementia is that the features most important to accurate diagnosis and management are cognitive decline and functional disability. Behavioural and psychological symptoms have generally been thought to be of secondary importance, but new evidence suggests that these are important determinants of patients' distress, carer burden, and outcome in dementia; they can also be valuable diagnostic pointers to the underlying pathological cause and disease diagnosis. Better methods to detect and measure the severity of behavioural and psychological symptoms are needed and these could be used in well-designed intervention trials. Although pharmacological management is a commonly used option, it is often limited in its effects and can be associated with a substantial risk of side-effects. Progress in understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms underpinning behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia will assist in developing more effective treatment approaches.

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