What is Pick’s disease?
Symptoms and treatment of Pick’s disease
Pick’s disease is a condition closely related to ‘fronto-temporal lobar degeneration’ (FTLD) and is one of the rarer types of dementia. Unlike Alzheimer’s disease and some other forms of dementia, it usually affects people between 40 and 60. Slightly more women than men are affected, and it is not known what causes the disease, although some research indicates that there may be a genetic component.
What causes Pick’s disease?
Pick’s disease affects only the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, unlike Alzheimer’s which affects cells throughout the brain.
It produces small deposits in the brain, known as Pick’s bodies, made up of useless proteins. It is thought that the buildup of these bodies slowly kills off brain cells, causing dementia symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of Pick’s disease
The loss of brain cells causes the affected parts of the brain to shrink and reduces mental functioning. Because this process is very gradual, the patient may take a long time to diagnose, and in the early stages Pick’s is sometimes misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s, depression or a mental illness.
Unlike dementias where memory loss is the first symptom, in Pick’s disease the earliest symptoms relate to personality and behavioural changes or a functional decline. These symptoms may only become noticeable two years or more after the onset of the disease.
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Treatment of Pick’s disease
Although Pick’s disease cannot be cured, it can be managed, particularly if diagnosed early.
The treatment for Pick’s generally focuses on helping people manage their symptoms and treating problems such as depression or mood changes:
Anti-depressants have been shown to improve some symptoms, and serotonin-boosting drugs may help in impulse control and some other behavioural symptoms. However, he drugs used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, such as Aricept, are of no use in alleviating the symptoms of Pick’s disease, and may even worsen it.
How Clinical Partners can help
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