Formal Psychiatric Disorders are not Overrepresented in Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia

J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;51(4):1249-56. doi: 10.3233/JAD-151198.


While psychiatric misdiagnosis is well-known in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), a systematic evaluation of standardized criteria for psychiatric disorders in bvFTD is still missing. Our aim was to define frequency and character of DSM-IV psychiatric disorders among patients with probable and definite bvFTD compared to possible bvFTD, other neurodegenerative diseases, and psychiatric diagnoses, using MINI-International Neuropsychiatric Interview. We additionally compared psychiatric prodromes between these groups. Subjects were participants of the late-onset frontal lobe (LOF) study, a longitudinal multicenter study. In each patient, after baseline diagnostic procedure, a neurologist and geriatric psychiatrist made a joint clinical diagnosis. Independently, a structured diagnostic interview according to DSM-IV and ICD-10 criteria (MINI-Plus) was performed by a trained professional blinded to clinical diagnosis. Out of 91 patients, 23 with probable and definite bvFTD, 3 with possible bvFTD, 25 with a non bvFTD neurodegenerative disease, and 40 with a clinical psychiatric diagnosis were included. Overall frequency of formal current and past psychiatric disorders in probable and definite bvFTD (21.7% current, 8.7% past) did not differ from other neurodegenerative diseases (12.0% current, 16.0% past) or possible bvFTD (66.7% current, 66.7% past), but was less than in patients with a clinical psychiatric diagnosis (57.5% current, 62.5% past; p < 0.01). In probable and definite bvFTD unipolar mood disorders were most common. Formally diagnosed psychiatric disorders are not overrepresented in probable bvFTD, suggesting that psychiatric misdiagnosis in bvFTD can be reduced by strictly applying diagnostic criteria. In suspected bvFTD close collaboration between neurologists and psychiatrists will advance diagnostics and subsequent treatment.

Keywords: Behavior; DSMIV criteria; ICD-10 criteria; behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia; misdiagnosis; neurology; psychiatric disorders; psychiatry.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / complications*
  • Frontotemporal Dementia / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / etiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales