Electrotherapy could be a safe way of treating dementia-related aggression and agitation, researchers say

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Electroconvulsive therapy could be a safe alternative for reducing behavioral symptoms of dementia when medication is not effective, according to findings from a small study.

Researchers tracked agitation and aggression in 23 participants who received electroconvulsive therapy in either Massachusetts or Michigan.

The participants came in with an average score of “markedly agitated/aggressive” on the Clinical Global Impression scale, and this changed to an average score of “borderline agitated/aggressive” when they were discharged from the therapy, the researchers determined. They also found a “significant decrease from baseline to discharge” utilizing the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory.

The electrotherapy did not appear to have any affect on depression, the investigators noted.

“Electroconvulsive therapy may be a safe treatment option to reduce symptoms of agitation and aggression in patients with dementia,” they concluded.

The researchers were affiliated with a variety of institutions, including Harvard Medical School, Michigan State University and Duke University School of Medicine.

Findings appear in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

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