Frontotemporal Dementia Causes: Symptoms & Treatment Options

Frontotemporal dementia is a term used for dementia caused due to damage to the frontal and temporal lobe of the brain. Dementia is a medical term used for mental failure leading to disability of several functions. This part of the brain controls speech, behavior, memory and emotions.

The characteristic pathological feature of frontotemporal dementia is shrinkage of a part of these lobes.

Usually the damage is caused due to insufficient blood circulation to this area of brain. Lack of proper blood supply causes death of brain cells.

Symptoms may differ according to the area that is damaged. The early symptoms are change in mood, depression, and withdrawing from social environment. With gradual progression the symptoms become worse, sometimes leading to antisocial behavior. The condition is not curable; the only way is to relieve the symptoms to make the life of the patient easier.

What Are The Causes Of Frontotemporal Dementia?

Brian is divided into several lobes, frontal and temporal are two of them. Frontotemporal dementia occurs when part of frontal and temporal lobe shrink in size and the brain cells die.

The exact reason for shrinkage is not known, but researchers believe it is caused due to genetic mutation. However, although thought to be inherited disorder, frontotemporal dementia is also observed in people with no family history of this condition.

Contemporary neurobiology has discovered that the degeneration of these lobes or part of these lobes is caused due to accumulation of tau protein in the brain. Tau protein is an intracellular protein within the brain cell. It is responsible for arrangement and stabilization of neurofilamentous microtubules. Mutation in tau gene causes damage to the brain structure in frontal and temporal lobe resulting in death of brain cells.

No risk factor has been pinpointed, but the risk increases if any member of the family is suffering from frontotemporal dementia. Since abnormal protein structures are called Pick bodies, the condition is often referred as Picks disease.

Symptoms Of Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia is an uncommon disorder. Clinical features of the condition vary depending upon which lobe shows preponderant atrophy.

  • Those with predominant frontal atrophy show early personality changes including apathy, and obsessive compulsive behavior.
  • When temporal lobe atrophy dominates patient has difficulty in speech and language, memory impairment, and visual agnosia (a condition in which patient can see but is unable to recognize the visual information).
  • In few other subtypes there may problem with movement which appear similar to Parkinson’s disease. Patient has weakness of muscles, tremor and rigidity, lack of coordination, and difficulty in swallowing.

Treatment Options For Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia is a permanent condition. There is no cure or to slow down its progression. Treatment is therefore symptomatic. Antidepressant medications are prescribed to alter behavioral problems, especially to get relief from apathy and depression.

Antidepressants such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors are used to uplift the mood and control food craving. In some cases doctors also prescribe antipsychotic medications. Certain natural alternative such as Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, have been found useful in memory lapses and dementias. It also encourages proper blood circulation.

Patient also needs some lifestyle changes with progression of the disease. Walking for 30 minutes is beneficial to uplift the mood and memory in such patients due to improved blood circulation. Music and aromatherapy are also beneficial in people suffering from dementia.