Frontotemporal dementia symptoms include aphasia and mood changes. Learn more about the disease's causes and treatment.

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Frontotemporal dementia symptoms include aphasia and mood changes. Learn more about the disease's causes and treatment.
Calvin Gayle via Lifetime
  • Frontotemporal dementia is a form of cognitive decline that can cause memory loss and personality changes.
  • Talk show host Wendy Williams and actor Bruce Willis have both been diagnosed with the condition.
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Broadcast media star Wendy Williams has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and primary progressive aphasia, according to a statement from her care team.

These related neurodegenerative conditions can both cause issues with memory and behavior.

Williams' diagnosis was announced February 22. The former talk show host had previously stepped down from her namesake show after reported "serious complications" of other health conditions, including Graves' Disease.

In recent years, Williams had begun to show signs of erratic behavior, confusion, and loss of words, according to the statement.

"Unfortunately, many individuals diagnosed with aphasia and frontotemporal dementia face stigma and misunderstanding, particularly when they begin to exhibit behavioral changes but have not yet received a diagnosis," the statement reads.

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Recently, the condition has received more public awareness due to other high-profile cases in celebrities such as Bruce Willis, whose family announced his diagnosis in February 2023.

There is currently no cure or treatment for the condition, and it is known to progress over time, causing further decline in patients' ability to make decisions and communicate.

Symptoms of frontotemporal dementia: difficulty communicating, changes to mood and behavior

Frontotemporal dementia refers to a group of disorders caused by nerve cell damage to areas of the brain behind the forehead (in the frontal lobe) and behind the ears (in the temporal lobes).

These parts of the brain help control language and behavior, so people with the condition can experience symptoms such as difficulty communicating, impulsive actions, or major personality changes.

Primary progressive aphasia falls under the umbrella of FTD. It is a condition that affects a person's ability to communicate. Symptoms begin slowly and gradually, but over time can cause people to lose the ability to speak, write, or understand language, according to the Mayo Clinic.

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Frontotemporal dementia can also have symptoms such as memory loss, but unlike other forms of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease, it typically occurs in younger people. Most cases of frontotemporal dementia are in people aged 45 to 64, and it is the most common form of cognitive decline in people under 60, according to the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration.

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