Frontotemporal dementia

Frontotemporal dementia or FTD (sometimes called Pick’s disease) is a relatively rare form of dementia.

There are no treatments at the moment specifically for FTD, so the current focus is on helping people with the disease and their carers to manage symptoms in everyday life.

This support can come from a range of places, including the NHS and social services as well as specialist support groups and local groups or organisations in your community.

Support to manage symptoms, as well as sharing experiences with others in a similar situation, can be a real help. Occupational therapists can also help you to maintain your independence for as long as possible.

Physical symptoms such as problems swallowing or moving may need careful management in their own right. You may be offered speech therapy or physiotherapy to help with these symptoms.

Speech therapists can also give advice about communication strategies for people with language problems. Some people find it helps to use alternative communication strategies, including specific tablet apps or more simple approaches like picture books.

While drug treatments for FTD are limited, a group of antidepressant medications called SSRIs can sometimes help to manage aspects of behaviour in people with FTD.

If someone with FTD is experiencing severe agitation or aggression, a doctor may first assess their general health and environment. This could help identify any causes or triggers of these symptoms. Non-drug approaches such as aromatherapy or music therapy might also be considered, and take into account the person’s own interests as well as the availability of treatments.

In rare cases antipsychotic drugs may be used to relieve severe symptoms. These drugs are not suitable for everyone so your doctor will carefully consider what is appropriate. They can have serious side-effects and their use should be carefully monitored.

For detailed information about the treatments available, visit our general treatments section.

This information was updated in January 2018 and is due for review in January 2020. It does not replace any advice that doctors, pharmacists or nurses may give you. Please contact us if you would like a version with references.

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