Pick’s Disease: Symptoms and Treatment

Overview

Pick’s disease, also known as frontotemporal dementia (FTD) or frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), is a rare, inherited brain disorder similar to Alzheimer’s. It is also a type of age-related dementia. It gradually damages brain cells, impairs their function, and disturbs cognitive processes. It was first described by Czech neurologist and psychiatrist Arnold Pick in 1892

Around 50,000 to 60,000 people in the U.S. have Pick’s disease. It’s usually diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 75, but it can happen in people as young as 20. It affects more men than women.

Causes

Like most conditions, the exact cause of this condition has not been discovered yet. However, scientists have found that there is an abnormal form of protein, called tau, accumulate in the nerve cells of the brain’s frontal and temporal lobe. They can kill the cells and shrink the brain tissue, leading to the symptoms of dementia.

Scientists don’t yet know the exact mechanism of this protein. But geneticists have noticed that abnormal genes and the occurrence of the disease in related family members are linked to Pick’s disease.

Symptoms

Symptoms usually show up in your behaviors, personality, and speech.

Speech Problems

  • Hesitant speech
  • Stuttering
  • Ungrammatical speech
  • Difficulty articulating
  • Difficulty understanding written words
  • Difficulty recalling words or names of common objects

Behavior Problems and Personality Changes

  • Unusual behavior
  • Aggressiveness
  • Disinhibition
  • Passivity
  • Hyperactivity
  • Anxiety
  • Slovenly appearance
  • Sensitivity
  • irritability
  • Delusions and paranoia
  • Lack of empathy
  • Lack of interest

Other problems

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty making movements
  • Stiff or weak muscles
  • Trouble peeing
  • Trouble with coordination

Diagnosis

Usually, Pick’s disease is not simply diagnosed by a single diagnostic test. Your doctor will use your medical history, special imaging tests and other tools to develop a diagnosis.

For example, your doctor may do the following things:

  • Take a complete medical history
  • Conduct a physical examination and detailed neurologic examination
  • Ask you to complete speech and writing tests
  • Interview your family members to learn about your behavior
  • Use MRI, CT, or PET scans to examine your brain tissue
  • Order blood tests to rule out other causes of dementia

Treatment

Doctors haven’t found any treatment that effectively slows and even stops the progression of Pick’s disease. Nevertheless, some treatments are helpful to ease some of the symptoms:

Medications

Here are medications typically used to alleviate some of the harsher symptoms of Pick’s disease:

  • SSRI’s
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors

Tests

Your doctor may also test for and treat other problems that could worsen your symptoms:

  • depression and other mood disorders
  • anemia, which can cause fatigue, headaches, moodiness, and difficulty concentrating
  • nutritional disorders
  • thyroid disorders
  • decreased oxygen levels
  • kidney or liver failure
  • heart failure

Keywords: pick’s disease.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.