Alexithymia-an independent risk factor for impulsive-compulsive disorders in Parkinson's disease

  • Goerlich-Dobre K
  • Probst C
  • Winter L
 et al. 
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Impulsive-compulsive disorders (ICDs) are frequent side effects of
dopaminergic medication in Parkinson's disease (PD). Alexithymia, a
personality trait characterized by difficulties identifying and
describing feelings and an externally oriented thinking style, has been
linked to various impulse-control problems in the general population. In
PD, the prevalence of alexithymia is approximately twice as high as in
the general population. However, whether alexithymia is associated with
ICDs in PD is currently unknown. We examined the relationship between
self-reported ICDs and alexithymia in a sample of 91 PD patients (89 on
dopaminergic medication). Additional self-report measures assessed
impulsivity, depression, anxiety, behavioral inhibition/approach, and
emotion-regulation strategies. We observed that alexithymia, and
particularly difficulty identifying feelings and difficulty describing
feelings, was significantly correlated with ICDs, even when controlling
for impulsivity, anxiety, and depression. In addition, a group analysis
revealed that PD patients with clinical and moderate levels of
alexithymia had significantly more ICDs than non-alexithymic patients,
suggesting that even moderately high alexithymia levels increase the
risk for ICDs in PD. Our results identify alexithymia as an independent
risk factor for ICDs in PD. Thus, the inclusion of alexithymia in the
neuropsychiatric assessment of patients with PD may help identify
patients at risk for ICDs. (c) 2013 International Parkinson and Movement
Disorder Society

Author-supplied keywords

  • Alexithymia
  • Impulsive-compulsive disorders
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Risk factor

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  • Katharina S. Goerlich-Dobre

  • Catharina Probst

  • Lina Winter

  • Karsten Witt

  • Günther Deuschl

  • Bettina Möller

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