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Medications to avoid

Cholinesterase inhibitors, such as donepezil (Aricept®), rivastigmine (Exelon®) and galantamine (Razadyne®), are prescribed for people with Alzheimer's disease. They seem to work by helping people to improve attention and working memory by increasing the amount of acetylcholine, a chemical in the brain. Unfortunately most people with frontotemporal dementia do not benefit from these medications and may even become more agitated when they are tried. Generally, cholinesterase inhibitors are not recommended for patients diagnosed with FTD.

Benzodiazepines, used to treat anxiety, insomnia, agitation, seizures and muscle spasms, have been linked to increased behavioral problems and impairment in both memory and psychomotor skills.

Common benzodiazepines:

  • estazolam (ProSom®)
  • diazepam (Valium®)
  • flurazepam (Dalmane®)
  • midazolam (Dormicum®, Versed®)
  • temazepam (Restoril®, Normison®)
  • triazolam (Halcion®)
  • alprazolam (Xanax®)
  • chlordiazepoxide (Librium®)
  • clonazepam (Rivotril®, Klonopin®)
  • clorazepate (Tranxene®)
  • lorazepam (Ativan®, Temesta®, Tavor®)
  • oxazepam (Serax®, Serepax®)
  • prazepam (Centrax®, Lysanxia®)

Typical antipsychotics such as haloperidol (Haldol®), fluphenazine (Prolixin®) and chlorpromazine (Thorazine®) are associated with muscle problems and should be avoided, since patients with FTD are likely to show muscle stiffness and trembling from the disease.

If you are concerned about any of the medications you are taking, ask your doctor or pharmacist to review them for you. It is always a good idea to take all your medications with you to each doctor's appointment so the types and dosages can be reviewed.

RxList and Healthline provide helpful online tools for checking potential medication side effects and interactions.

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