J Korean Geriatr Psychiatry.  2000 Jun;4(1):24-33.

Anxiety and Agitation in BPSD

  • 1Department of psychiatry, Kangnam General Hospital Public Corporation, Seoul, Korea. narae@kangnamhosp.or.kr


Recently attention to the behavior and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) is increasing repidly. Agitation is one of the BPSDs that contributes to the heavy burden on the caregiver and family. But, the definition of the agitation is controversial, and the rating scales for its measurements have limitations. We reviewed the literatures and our experiences to propose a rational strategy for controlling the agitating behaviors in the demented elderly. In the assessment of agitation in dementia, the top priority is a careful evaluation of the patient's medical, psychiatric, and environmental status. After pertinent medical conditions have been identified and managed, significant agitation may still be present and require intervention. Basically both behavior/environmental intervention and psychopharmacologic management are recommended in almost all situations. For patients with mild agitation, the clinician may consider implementing behavioral/environmental intervention singwarly. In severe agitation, however, pharmacologic approach is a preferred strategy, and can be administered according to the prevailing syndromes, such as psychosis, depression, delirium, anxiety, and so on. In practice high potency conventional antipsychotics and benzodiazepines are fregnently prescribed, but recently, drugs that have fewer long-term side effects, such as risperidone and divalproex are highly recommended. Due to the decreased pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, drug dosages for the demented elderlies are much lower compared to younger patients. Side effects of the maintaining psychotropics should be monitored cautiously as well. Although some patients require long-term treatment, it is important to taper off and discontinue the medication periodically following a satisfactory improvement.


Dementia; Agitation; Environmental intervention; Pharmacotherapy
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