Nov 3, 2020
Impulse control disorders in Parkinson’s disease (PD) are more common than originally thought, affecting an estimated one in six people with PD taking dopamine agonists. They may appear as unhealthy or compulsive levels of shopping, gambling, eating, sexual activity, or involvement in hobbies. They appear to be related to dopamine replacement therapy, so finding the right level of medications can be a challenge to manage symptoms without incurring impulsivity issues. It is important that people with PD, their care partners, and health care professionals be aware of and recognize these activities so that they can be addressed promptly to avoid, for example, social, emotional, economic, and health issues that may result from these disorders. The harm often goes beyond the person with the disorder and can affect family, friends, and others around them. Once recognized, impulse control disorders can often be managed or eliminated by working with a doctor to change dopamine agonist medications or dosage, or in some cases, even going on to deep brain stimulation.
Dr. Mark Groves, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Parkinson’s Foundation’s Center of Excellence at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City, discusses the problem of impulse control disorders, what forms they may take, approaches to recognizing them, and the need to acknowledge them as a biologic condition and not a character or personality flaw.