Symptoms of frontotemporal disorders vary from person to person and from one stage of the disease to the next as different parts of the frontal and temporal lobes are affected. In general, changes in the frontal lobe are associated with behavioral symptoms, while changes in the temporal lobe lead to language and emotional disorders.
Symptoms are often misunderstood. Family members and friends may think that a person is misbehaving, leading to anger and conflict. For example, a person with bvFTD may neglect personal hygiene or start shoplifting. It is important to understand that people with these disorders cannot control their behaviors and other symptoms.
People with PPA may have only problems using and understanding words or also problems with the physical ability to speak. People with both kinds of problems have trouble speaking and writing and may become mute, or unable to speak. Language problems usually get worse for at least 2 years after they appear. Other thinking and social skills remain normal longer before deteriorating.
David and his wife ran a successful store until he began to act strangely. He intruded on his teenaged daughters’ gatherings with friends, standing and staring at them but not realizing how embarrassed they were. He took food from other people’s plates. A year later, David, 47, and his wife lost their business. After a misdiagnosis of depression and no improvement, David’s wife took him to a neurologist, who diagnosed bvFTD.
Not acting like himself
Previously a devoted husband, Gary began an extramarital affair at age 55—and didn’t care that everyone knew about it. His wife was devastated and angry. His friends agreed that this was not like him. All attempts to reason with him were unsuccessful, as Gary could not understand how his actions hurt others. His wife insisted on a visit to the doctor. Initially, Gary was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder. After further evaluation, he was told he had bvFTD.
Publication Date: January 2012
Page Last Updated: September 23, 2013