Diagnosis and Management of Behavioral Issues in Frontotemporal Dementia
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Frontotemporal lobar degeneration is an umbrella term for several different disorders. In behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), patients show deterioration in cognition and social behavior. New diagnostic criteria proposed by the International Behavioral Variant FTD Consortium provide greater sensitivity in diagnosing bvFTD. Current pharmacological management of symptoms relies on medications borrowed from treating Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and psychiatric disorders. The evidence for using AD medications such as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors is questionable. Psychiatric medications can be helpful. Trazodone or SSRIs can have some efficacy in reducing disinhibition, repetitive behaviors, sexually inappropriate behaviors, and hyperorality. Small doses of atypical antipsychotics may be helpful in decreasing agitation and verbal outbursts. Nonpharmacological management includes caregiver education and support and behavioral interventions. While symptomatic treatments are likely to remain important behavior management tools, targeting the underlying pathology of bvFTD with disease-modifying agents will hopefully be the future of treatment.