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Pick's disease: causes, symptoms and treatment

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Dementias are a type of neurodegenerative disease in which they are progressively lost different mental capacities, progressively deteriorating the person as a whole according to the disease get moving. The best known of these diseases is Alzheimer's, although there are many others.

Within this group of disorders, another neurodegenerative disease that has characteristics very similar to those of Alzheimer's is known as Pick's disease. Let's see what its characteristics are.

  • Related article: "Alzheimer's: causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention"

Pick's disease: main characteristics

Pick's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes the progressive deterioration of the mental capacities of those who suffer it due to neuronal death. Thus, it causes a frontotemporal dementia, initiating cell destruction in the frontal lobe to gradually expand to temporary.

This disease is a relatively common form of frontotemporal dementia, with an estimated 25% of them due to Pick's disease. Symptoms usually begin between the ages of 40 and 50

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, and has the peculiarity that it is a disease that does not have more prevalence as age increases (unlike Alzheimer's).

Like most other dementias, Pick's disease is a disease that causes progressive and irreversible deterioration Without periods of remission occurring, culminating in the death of the individual. It has a course of about 5 to 15 years between the onset of symptoms and the death or death of the subject.


The presentation of the symptoms of Pick's disease can sometimes lead to confusion with rare forms of Alzheimer's disease, but it has characteristics that allow it to be distinguished from this and other dementias.

The main symptoms of dementia caused by this disease are as follows.

1. Personality changes

One of the first symptoms to be noticed in Pick's disease is the presence of sudden changes in the patient's personality. These changes usually refer to an increase in behavioral disinhibition, greater aggressiveness and impulsiveness, and even an increase in socialization. The opposite can also occur, presenting abulia and apathy.

2. Altered mood

Like the personality, the mood can also be altered from the first stages of the disease. Emotional lability, irritability, nervousness or on the contrary emotional dullness can be seen frequently.

3. Executive functions

Taking into account that the alteration begins in the frontal, it is easy to associate this disease with the presence of alterations in executive functions. Decision making, risk assessment, planning and maintenance or change of action are complicated. It is common to observe the existence of perseverance and even obsessive characteristics. Especially marked is the lack of impulse control.

4. Socialization

It is also common for the patient's social relationships to deteriorate. Although initially in some cases a approaching others by reducing the level of inhibitionIn the long run, bonds and social skills deteriorate. It is also frequent that the weakening of self-control causes them to present hypersexuality, performing practices such as masturbation in public.

5. Memory

In its expansion through the frontal and temporal, Pick's disease gradually generates memory alterations both antegrade and retrograde. These alterations occur later than other dementias such as Alzheimer's, with which it is sometimes confused.

  • Related article: "Types of memory: how does the human brain store memories?"

6. Language

Pick's disease usually causes alterations in the patient's language over time. Speech, as well as literacy, is common to slow down and lose fluency. Anomie, perseverance and repetition of words and the echolalia they are also frequent. Also the pragmatic use of language both in its verbal and paraverbal aspects and its adaptation to the rules and specific situations often present alterations.

Its causes

Pick's disease is a problem whose origin is unknown. However, people with Pick's disease have been found to have alterations in the genes encoding tau protein.

The tau protein appears in excess in the brain, within complexes known as Pick's bodies. These cells cause damage to neurons in the frontal and temporal area, culminating in a progressive atrophy of the brain lobes. The presence of bulbous neurons is also observed.

The fact that genetic mutations have been found in the genes that develop this protein indicates that this disease is influenced by genetics, and in fact can be passed on to offspring.

Treatment of Pick's disease

Dementia caused by Pick's disease does not have a treatment that can reverse its effects. Thus, Pick's disease does not have properly a curative treatment today. But despite this, it is possible to slow down the deterioration caused by the progression of the disease and help those affected have a better quality of life.

On a psychological level, the use of occupational therapy and neurostimulation in order to keep the patient mentally activated. The use of compensatory mechanisms is also useful with regard to skills that are being lost, such as example the use of an agenda to control the things that you must do and that memory deficits have less effect on your life daily.

Psychoeducation, counseling and psychological support for both the patient and their environment It is also essential, since it is facing a complicated situation in which the The existence of information regarding what happens to the individual is essential to understand their situation.

At the pharmacological level, different psychoactive drugs such as antidepressants or even some antipsychotics in order to control the symptoms.

Bibliographic references:

  • Santos, J.L.; García, L.I.; Calderón, M.A.; Sanz, L.J.; de los Ríos, P.; Izquierdo, S.; Roman, P.; Hernangómez, L.; Navas, E.; Ladrón, A and Álvarez-Cienfuegos, L. (2012). Clinical psychology. CEDE PIR Preparation Manual, 02. CEDE. Madrid.

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