Medicine's standard response to dementia is a prescription drug, ranging from an antipsychotic, an antidepressant or a mood stabilizer.
But a new study has revealed that the benefits of the drugs are, at best, modest, and they can increase the chance of stroke.
The typical antipsychotics had little or no positive effect, although adverse reactions were common, the atypical antipsychotics had a similarly modest benefit, but caused an increased risk of stroke, while the antidepressants did nothing to help improve dementia symptoms.
The study, carried out by researchers at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, is damning. It throws into question the whole drug approach to dementia, and suggests that nutrition, meditation and exercises in developing mental acuity are the only option for people with dementia.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association,2005; 293: 596-608).
* All the drug-free therapies for warding off dementia and depression are explored and explained in the What Doctors Don't Tell You Guide to Mental Health.