Ravetz RS. Psychiatric disorders associated with Alzheimer's disease. J Am Osteopath Assoc 1999;99(9_suppl):S13–S16. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.1999.99.9.S13.
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Alzheimer's disease is a cortical dementia with an insidious onset and relatively slow progression. In the early stages and throughout most of the disease, memory impairment is the primary problem. Any manifestation of psychiatric symptoms is generally secondary to the amnesia, the paramount symptom of early Alzheimer's disease. The psychiatric symptoms emanate from the memory impairment. Therefore, testing memory is essential. The first stage of Alzheimer's disease commonly is marked by anxiety and depression secondary to memory impairment, and delusions. In the second stage, delusions often become more bizarre. Impairment of visuospatial memory, improper advances, and obscene language begin to replace disinhibited behavior, often to the point of violence directed at others. Increasing agitation requires restraints. In the third and final stage, screaming, banging, and cursing are common features. Verbal and behavioral perseverations are very common. Fecal and urinary incontinence and gait apraxia are other features of the final stage, again with restraints often necessary. In addition to outlining the progression of Alzheimer's disease through these stages, this article summarizes the available pharmacotherapy for the various psychiatric manifestations of the illness prevalent at each stage.
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