Table 1

Main findings in the treatment of depression comorbid with dementia

InterventionMain findings
PharmacologicalMonotherapyAntidepressants are not recommended for new-onset mild to moderate depression in those with dementia.
Dual therapy and augmentationLimited research evidence is available; some clinicians provide anecdotal evidence to support this strategy.
Monitoring of physical healthWith SSRIs, pay attention to the risks of hyponatraemia and GI bleeding.
PsychologicalIndividual therapyThere is some evidence for the effectiveness of cognitive–behavioural therapy and problem adaptation therapy.
Couple and family therapyThere is little evidence for the efficacy of family and couples therapy.
Group therapySome evidence for the effectiveness of group therapy, but substantial heterogeneity between studies.
SocialSleep hygieneOverall evidence does not support a significant treatment effect using sleep hygiene approaches.
ExerciseOverall evidence does not support a significant positive impact of exercise on depressive symptoms.
Patient and carer educationRelatively little work in this area and insufficient evidence to suggest patient and carer education is effective in reducing depressive symptoms.
Arts and museum attendanceMusic therapy has the best evidence and further work is needed to establish the benefits of other modalities.
NeurostimulationECTSevere depression with comorbid dementia responds well to ECT and provides rapid resolution of symptoms.
TMSLimited literature on efficacy of TMS for treating and further studies are needed to evaluate its efficacy.
  • ECT, electroconvulsive therapy; GI, gastrointestinal; SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation.