GPs Are Dismissing Symptoms Of Dementia As A 'Mid-Life Crisis', Claims Health Expert

'We see a lot of people who are simply told it’s a problem in their marriage.'

29/03/2016 11:22

Middle-aged people are being told they are going through a "mid-life crisis" by doctors, when in fact they could be suffering from a less common type of dementia.

Jonathan Rohrer, a specialist in frontotemporal dementia at University College London, claimed that doctors are wrongly telling patients they are having marital issues or going through a mid-life crisis. 

The reality is that many symptoms exhibited are tell-tale signs of frontotemporal dementia, a condition which affects roughly 16,000 people in Britain.

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"We see a lot of people who are simply told it’s a problem in their marriage," Jonathan Rohrer, a specialist in frontotemporal dementia at University College London, said according to the Mail Online. 

"People become more irritable, saying rude things that are socially unacceptable, as one of the symptoms is loss of empathy towards loved ones. 

"People tend to go to the GP and say, 'My partner’s not right’ and GPs say, 'It’s just mid-life' or 'You’re not getting on any more'."

Frontotemporal dementia is one of the less common forms of dementia. However it is a significant cause of dementia in younger people aged 65 and under. 

This type of dementia is caused when nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain die and the pathways that connect them change. 

Over time, the brain tissue in these lobes - which control behaviour, emotions and language - shrinks.


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Jonathan Rohrer said there are also unusual symptoms which people don't necessarily associate with dementia. 

For example, it is not commonly known that developing a sweet tooth later in life could be a sign of frontotemporal dementia.

Loss of empathy, showing less interest in others, loss of motivation and repetitive or compulsive behaviour are also symptoms of the condition.

The rate of progression of frontotemporal dementia varies greatly however research shows that, on average, people live for about eight years after the start of symptoms.

According to Alzheimer's UK, this type of dementia can be difficult to diagnose as dementia because it does not initially cause memory problems. 

"Behavioural symptoms may be mistaken for depression, schizophrenia or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Problems with language or movement may be misdiagnosed as stroke," reads the site.

The condition can be diagnosed through blood tests, as well as CT (computerised tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scans.


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