MONDAY, Jan. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Even though some Parkinson's disease patients undergo psychological changes where they may suddenly take up gambling or compulsive eating or shopping, the cause is likely the medications they are taking and not the disease itself, a new study shows.
One expert not connected to the study said these types of behavioral issues can happen in Parkinson's patients.
Impulse control disorders "affect a small but significant number of patients, and include pathological gambling, hypersexuality [commonly referred to as "sex addiction"], compulsive eating or medication abuse," said Dr. Martin Niehammer, a neurologist at North Shore-LIJ's Movement Disorders Center, in Great Neck, NY.
What hasn't been clear is the source of these behaviors, the researchers noted.
"We've known for some time that these behaviors are more common in people taking certain Parkinson's medications, but we haven't known if the disease itself leads to an increased risk of these behaviors," study author Dr. Daniel Weintraub, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, said in a news release from the journal Neurology. The study appears in the Jan. 8 issue of the journal.
Weintraub and his colleagues asked 168 people recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease who were not yet on any medication about their symptoms of impulse control, such as compulsive gambling or shopping. They were also asked about other behaviors such as aimless wandering and pounding or excessive repetition of behaviors like handling or sorting of objects.
The patients' responses were compared to those of 143 people of similar ages who did not have the disease.
The study revealed that about 20 percent of people from each group had symptoms of impaired impulse control. The researchers concluded those with Parkinson's disease were no more or less likely to have these symptoms those with
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