Parkinson’s disease medications may cause risky behavior: Study

Parkinson’s disease is a major disorder of the body’s motor system, characterized by trembling in hands, arms, legs, and face; stiffness of the limbs; or decline in movement and impaired balance and coordination.

Lately, there has been an exceptional progress in the development of new drugs that have improved the quality of life of the patients of Parkinson’s. But many a times, these drugs are linked to psychiatric disorders such as impulsivity, in which a person might harm himself or others.

A recent study, published in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics in April 2016, suggested that these impulse control disorders (ICDs) – such as pathological gambling, compulsive buying, hypersexuality and binge eating – may ruin the personal, professional and financial life of a person, if left untreated. The good news is that ICDs in Parkinson’s patients can be effectively treated by adopting measures such as adjusting the medication and carrying out deep brain stimulation and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Men more likely to show problems of hypersexuality, pathological gambling

Previous national study revealed that ICD was fairly common psychiatric illness — nearly 14 percent patients of Parkinson’s disease experienced at least one ICD episode — in which people can’t resist the urge to do something that poses significant challenge to their personal and social life. Men are more likely to show problems of hypersexuality and pathological gambling, while women who experience ICD are more likely to exhibit compulsive buying and eating.

Treatment of ICDs is not fully understood by many clinicians, and this is the reason why patients experience an array of side effects during the course of the treatment. The latest study also demonstrated the use of specific Parkinson’s medications, known as dopamine agonists that help treat tremors and other symptoms. However, other risk factors, including being underage, smoking, alcohol abuse and personality traits such as impulsivity, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety, may also play a crucial role.

Although there has been either very limited or no research into potential treatments of the mental health condition, certain individualized and specific interventions are critical for the recovery of patients. Many a times, clinicians may consider switching, reducing or discontinuing Parkinson’s medications which can actually add to the woes of such patients.

In fact, patients who are already going through this degenerative disease often don’t prefer changing medications for the fear of making those symptoms worse. A significant number of patients may also experience withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, panic attacks, depression, irritability and fatigue, when completely devoid of dopamine agonists.

The researchers also talked about the efficacy of alternative treatment strategies for Parkinson’s disease and strongly recommended medications such as antidepressants, atypical antipsychotics and antiepileptic drugs that may help control ICDs. The researchers also claimed that there were a plethora of treatments available – such as cognitive behavioral therapy and brain pacemaker known as deep brain stimulation – that don’t involve drugs and can offer a much-needed relief to ICDs associated with Parkinson’s disease.

A disease doesn’t affect just the individual who is going through the pain, it also affects the family and near ones. So, every family member should be aware of the fact that Parkinson’s medications can cause ICDs and must report to the caregiver about any abnormal alterations in the patient’s routine behaviors.

Path to recovery

Parkinson’s disease often begins at a slow pace. However, at times, it may develop in stages and symptoms may increase in severity as the disease progresses. Signs of Parkinson’s may vary; hence, it is important to understand the various symptoms to get in touch with the relevant treatment options. There are specialized mental health programs that understand the confidentiality and offer assistance to patients, helping them receive treatment and rehabilitation.

If you or your loved one is battling any mental health issue that needs medical intervention, it is time to avail of the best mental health programs. You can also call the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline at 855-653-8178 for assistance. We will connect you to one of the most efficient mental health centers that can offer the best treatment program suited to your needs.