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Citalopram Benefits Dementia Patients with Psychosis

Preliminary research suggests it's as effective as risperidone and causes far fewer side effects

MONDAY, Sept. 10 (HealthDay News) -- In dementia patients with psychotic symptoms and agitation, treatment with the antidepressant citalopram may be just as effective -- and safer -- than treatment with the antipsychotic risperidone, according to study findings published online Sept. 10 in advance of publication in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Bruce Pollock, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Toronto in Canada, and colleagues randomly assigned 103 hospitalized patients to 12 weeks of treatment with either citalopram or risperidone.

The researchers found that citalopram and risperidone both significantly reduced hallucinations, delusions, suspicious thoughts and agitation (by 32 percent and 35 percent, respectively). But they also found that citalopram was associated with a 4 percent reduced burden of adverse side effects such as sedation, tension and apathy, while risperidone was associated with a 19 percent increase in side effect burden scores.

"Our findings should encourage the conduct of additional trials of citalopram and other agents in the treatment of behavioral and psychotic symptoms associated with dementia," the authors conclude. "Given the current view of questionable risk-benefit ratio of second-generation antipsychotics in the treatment of patients with dementia, the inclusion of a placebo should be considered in future trials."

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