FTD causes cell damage in the frontal lobe (behind the eyes) and temporal lobe (behind the ears), shrinking tissue and reducing brain functions such as judgment, emotions, speaking, understanding and movement. FTD is relatively more common in the younger population, with people often developing symptoms in their 50s or early 60s.
FTD is comprised of multiple disorders with different core symptoms:
- Behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD) impacts personality and behavior. Subtle changes in personal relationships, interaction with others and mood may be noticeable in the beginning, and are sometimes mistaken for depression. As bvFTD progresses, a person may withdraw socially, lose restraint in personal relations and social activities, and have poor judgment or decision making abilities.
- Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) affects language skills in the beginning and behavior as the disorder advances. A person can speak, but uses broad general terms such as “animal” when referring to a “dog.” Comprehension of language may also become a problem as the disease advances. They may struggle to find words, or speech may seem delayed. The ability to read and write may also decline.
- Frontotemporal movement disorders affects involuntary, automatic muscle functions, and impairs language and behavior. A person may become shaky, notice muscle rigidity and spasms and loss of coordination. A person may have trouble with walking and balance, may fall frequently and notice muscle stiffness or affected eye movement.
Learn more about different types of dementia here.