Pharmacological and Nonpharmacological Treatment for Apathy in Alzheimer Disease: A Systematic Review Across Modalities

Christos Theleritis, Kostas Siarkos, Everina Katirtzoglou, Antonis Politis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: Apathy is one of the most frequent neuropsychiatric symptoms encountered in Alzheimer disease (AD). Early diagnosis and timely treatment of apathy in AD seem to be of great importance, since apathy has been associated with poor disease outcome, reduced daily functioning, and caregiver distress. Design: Within this context, we conducted an extensive electronic search from the databases included in the National Library of Medicine as well as PsychInfo and Google Scholar for studies that have investigated the effect of pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments of apathy in AD. Results: Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, gingko biloba, methylphenidate, and a variety of nonpharmacological interventions were found to be successful in reducing apathy in patients with AD. Methodological heterogeneity of the studies and the small amount of studies where apathy was a primary outcome measure are limiting factors to evaluate for group effects. Conclusion: Treatment of apathy in AD is a complicated and an underexplored field. Standardized and systematic efforts primarily focused on the study of apathy in AD may establish a benefit from individualized treatment for specific disease groups that would stem from a combination of both pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-49
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Alzheimer disease
  • apathy
  • dementia
  • nonpharmacological
  • pharmacological
  • treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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