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What You Should Know About Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD)

What You Should Know About Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD)

Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD) is a significant yet often misdiagnosed form of dementia, accounting for about half of all frontotemporal dementia cases. Characterized by dramatic changes in personality and behavior, bvFTD profoundly affects patients and their families. 


This article explores the key symptoms, diagnostic challenges, and current management strategies for bvFTD, highlighting the importance of early detection and the ongoing research aimed at improving understanding and treatment of this complex condition.

What is bvFTD?


According to Reverse Brain Age, Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia (bvFTD), also referred to as frontal lobar degeneration or Pick’s disease, is a form of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) marked by significant changes in personality, apathy, and socially inappropriate behavior. These changes stem from frontal lobe issues, leading to a progressive decline in judgment, self-control, and empathy.

Symptoms of bvFTD


Understanding the symptoms associated with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) is crucial for early recognition and proper management of the condition. This symptoms of bvFTD include:


  • Inappropriate social behavior
  • Loss of social restraints
  • Apathy and withdrawal
  • Purposeless activity or agitation
  • Impulsive financial decisions
  • Difficulty recognizing threats to safety
  • Lack of concern over personal appearance
  • Irresponsibility
  • Compulsiveness
  • Increased irritability
  • Changes in emotional responsiveness

How Can We Diagnose bvFTD?


Diagnosing behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) presents challenges, often mimicking other conditions like depression or Alzheimer’s disease. To ensure accuracy, the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD) developed a diagnostic checklist. 


Key criteria for diagnosing bvFTD include progressive behavior or cognitive decline, specific core features like disinhibition or apathy, functional decline, and neuroimaging consistent with bvFTD. Three diagnostic levels—possible, probable, and definite—guide clinicians, while exclusion criteria help differentiate bvFTD from other disorders. 


Clinical evaluation involves comprehensive assessments, including neurological exams, neuropsychological testing, clinical scales, neuroimaging, and genetic testing, facilitating accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.

Can We Slow bvFTD?


Currently, there are no treatments available to halt the progression of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). Instead, managing symptoms revolves around behavioral and environmental interventions. These interventions primarily focus on addressing disruptive behaviors by redirecting them and employing reassuring and engaging tactics to alleviate agitation. 


While pharmacotherapy options are limited, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may provide some relief for symptoms like apathy, irritability, and disinhibited behavior in certain individuals. However, it’s important to note that these medications are not specifically approved for treating FTD.



bvFTD presents significant challenges in diagnosis and management due to its complex symptoms and lack of specific treatments. Despite being a prevalent form of dementia, it is often misdiagnosed, emphasizing the need for increased awareness and accurate diagnostic tools. Early detection is crucial for initiating appropriate interventions and support for patients and their families. 

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