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Symptoms of FTD

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) classically affects adults ages 50-60. Persons with FTD typically reveal a gradual onset and progression of changes in behavior and personality for several years prior to presentation to a neurologist. The early manifestations are subtle and often mistaken for a “midlife crisis” or depression or other psychiatric illness.

Symptoms can include:

  • Apathy: Loss of motivation toward previously valued interests and activities. These may appear to be depression, but the patient does not experience sad feelings
  • Disinhibition: Inappropriate or bizarre social behavior (e.g., eating with one's fingers in public, doing sit-ups in a public restroom, being overly familiar with strangers). This may also include a “loosening" of normal social restraints (e.g., using obscene language or making inappropriate sexual remarks)
  • Loss of sympathy/empathy: Patients may abandon family duties; approach strangers (including children) with unwanted questions or other interpersonal boundary violations; or tactlessly comment on others’ weight, attractiveness, or position in a social hierarchy. A spouse’s major life events (e.g., cancer diagnosis, death in the family, job loss) may be ignored or trivialized
  • Repetitive/compulsive behavior: Need to carry out repeated actions that are inappropriate or not relevant to the situation at hand
  • Change in eating behavior: A predilection for sweets, and relentless overeating

Other less frequent symptoms include:

  • Loss of muscle function
  • Difficulty with word finding and comprehension
  • Memory issues
  • Inability to initiate speech

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