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Can Parkinson’s Disease Cause Personality Changes

The Psychosocial Impact Of Stigma

Several studies have found correlations between perceived stigma and depression in people with PD. Participants in qualitative studies have repeatedly reported embarrassment and shame about having PD. From a social relations perspective, it is argued that these feelings are, in part, a result of stigmatizing attitudes and actions of other people because PD is seen as breaking social rules. The shame experienced by people with PD can be considered public shame, with their home and private world being experienced as safer, which highlights the social relational nature of shame .

The socially created shame about having PD may be internalized and taken on as part of a persons self-identity. Some qualitative studies have explored the concept of self-identity in PD, and participants have described the challenges of living with PD and how it affects their sense of self and their social roles. People with chronic illness may feel discredited, which can be influenced by stigmatizing and disabling societal views of illness .

A person may internalize the negative stereotypes of what it means to have PD. This may be particularly pertinent for people who acquired impairments as adults after they had earlier developed perceptions of impairment from a non-impaired perspective. They may impose their own non-impaired view of illness on themselves. For example, a person with PD may experience negative feelings about being a burden and strive to sustain independence .

Living With Parkinson Disease

These measures can help you live well with Parkinson disease:

  • An exercise routine can help keep muscles flexible and mobile. Exercise also releases natural brain chemicals that can improve emotional well-being.
  • High protein meals can benefit your brain chemistry
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy can help your ability to care for yourself and communicate with others
  • If you or your family has questions about Parkinson disease, want information about treatment, or need to find support, you can contact the American Parkinson Disease Association.

Causes Of Personality Changes

Grief, bad news, and disappointment can cause a normally happy person to become downtrodden. Sometimes, a persons mood can be altered for weeks or months after hearing devastating news. However, mood changes arent the same as personality changes.

However, some people experience unusual or strange behavior for years, which may occur due to an illness or injury. A person may experience a change in their demeanor after experiencing a traumatic situation or witnesses an unpleasant event.

These behavioral changes may be caused by a mental health condition, such as:

Medical conditions that cause a fluctuation in hormone levels can also cause strange or unusual behavior. These conditions include:

Signs Of Parkinsons Disease

In 1817, Dr. James Parkinson published An Essay on the Shaking Palsy describing non-motor, as well as, motor symptoms of the illness that bears his name. Parkinsons is not just a movement disorder, explained Dr. Shprecher. Constipation, impaired sense of smell, and dream enactment can occur years before motor symptoms of Parkinsons. The latter, caused by a condition called REM sleep behavior disorder, is a very strong risk factor for both Parkinsons and dementia . This has prompted us to join a consortium of centers studying REM sleep behavior disorder.

Management Of Personality Changes

Stages of Parkinson

The best approach is to combine drug therapy with different psychotherapy strategies specifically suited to specific patients.

A stroke can be treated at the earliest stages with prompt and effective treatment, restoring normal behavior and function, and personality changes. However, this may not be the situation in some other instances. Also, drug therapy and counselling may be necessary. When disease progression cannot be remedied with medication, symptomatic treatment is carried out to manage the situation. The elderly may also experience behavioral modifications such as age-induced loss of memory and irritability. A holistic approach is also necessary to yield the best result in personality changes.

Memory Or Thinking Problems

Having issues with thinking and processing things could mean your disease is progressing. Parkinsons is more than a movement disorder. The disease has a cognitive part as well, which means it can cause changes in the way your brain works.

During the final stage of the disease, some people may develop dementia or have hallucinations. However, hallucinations can also be a side effect of certain medications.

If you or your loved ones notice that youre getting unusually forgetful or easily confused, it might be a sign of advanced-stage Parkinsons.

What Causes Parkinson Disease

Parkinson disease arises from decreased dopamine production in the brain. The absence of dopamine makes it hard for the brain to coordinate muscle movements. Low dopamine also contributes to mood and cognitive problems later in the course of the disease. Experts don’t know what triggers the development of Parkinson disease most of the time. Early onset Parkinson disease is often inherited and is the result of certain gene defects.

Increased Feelings Of Anxiety Or Depression

Anxiety and depression have been linked to Parkinsons. In addition to movement problems, the disease can also have an impact on your mental health. Its possible that changes in your emotional well-being can be a sign of changing physical health as well.

If you are more anxious than usual, have lost interest in things, or feel a sense of hopelessness, talk to your doctor.

Does Dbs Cause Changes In Personality

Report from International Neuroethics Society annual meeting

Since 2002, deep brain stimulation , the surgical implantation of a pacemaker-like device that sends electrical impulses to targeted parts of the brain, has been used as a treatment for motor symptoms of Parkinsons disease . But are patients trading part of their sense of self in exchange for improved mobility?

In the last decade, a growing number of published articles have raised the concern of personality changes in PD patients as a result of DBS, and tried to discern if the concern is real or overblown. At Thursdays International Neuroethics Society meeting discussion DBS: Continuity of Self, panelists aimed to add clarity to the debate. Speculation shouldnt be divorced from clinical reality, said panel moderator and ethicist Hannah Maslen, who introduced the session.

The speakers, philosopher and neuroethicist Frederic Gilbert, neuropsychologist Cynthia Kubu, behavioral neurologist Winston Chiong, and ethics researcher Jonathan Pugh, offered a range of perspectives. They largely focused on the state of the evidence and why its so difficult to assess personality changes in patients.

But what does the existing primary research say?

One patient who met this criterion told them, really takes over. I couldnt work, which was a big part of my identity. If I didnt have the device Id probably be dead right now, and later states I think that does change you as a person.

Memory Loss In Parkinsons Disease

Anything that affects cognition can affect memory too. However, sometimes it becomes difficult to differentiate memory loss or impairment due to PD from that due to normal aging process.

Subcortical cognitive deficits, as seen typically in PD patients, are characterized more by problems with memory recall than by memory formation, decrease in mental speed or slowed thinking , and apathy. It is not that PD patients suffering from bradyphrenia are unable to think. It is only that their thinking process is slow, so they need time to answer questions or make decisions.

Executive impairment may be more pronounced than language deficit. Executive functions involve higher level thinking skills such as logical thinking, prioritizing, organizing, planning, and executing. Dementia may be accompanied by psychosis, agitation, and sleep disturbances.

Personality Changes With Age

Your personality can continue to develop throughout your lifetime.

A 2011 study suggests that the Big Five personality traits conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and introversion/extroversion remain stable once people reach adulthood.

In a 2016 study, researchers compared the results of personality tests taken by adolescents in 1950 with those taken by the same people at age 77. The test results suggested that personality may gradually change during someones life and be very different by the time theyre older.

This study did have some methodology limitations, and more work is needed in this area.

Anxiety And Parkinsons Disease

Anxiety is another common mood disorder of PD and is characterized by excessive nervousness or worry over several months. Patients with generalized anxiety disorder may experience symptoms such as:

  • Restlessness, feeling wound-up or on edge
  • Difficulty controlling the worry
  • Sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless or unsatisfying sleep1,3

Anxiety is not linked with disease progression of PD. It may develop before or after a PD diagnosis. It is often experienced along with depression in people with PD, as the disease process of PD changes the chemistry of the brain. Treatment for anxiety may include anti-anxiety medications, psychological counseling, exercise, relaxation techniques, and/or meditation.1

Depression And Parkinsons Disease


Depression can be a disabling symptom of PD, and it may negatively affect a persons long-term outcomes by causing them to withdraw from social situations, avoid activities like exercise, or being more reluctant to seek care. Some people experience depression as an early symptom of PD before the characteristic motor symptoms appear.2

Depression has a variety of symptoms, not all of which are experienced by every patient. Symptoms of depression can also range in severity or vary over time. Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities, especially those which were previously enjoyable
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms3

There are many treatment options for depression that work well in people with PD. There are several types of antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , tricyclic antidepressants, and selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors . Many people also experience relief from their depression through psychological counseling, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. In addition, regular exercise has been shown to ease symptoms of depression.1,4

Personality Changes After Deep Brain Stimulation In Parkinsons Disease

Uyen Pham

1Department of Neuropsychiatry and Psychosomatic Medicine, Oslo University Hospital-Rikshospitalet, 0027 Oslo, Norway

2Department of Gerontopsychiatry, Akershus University Hospital, 1478 Lørenskog, Norway

3Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway

4Department of Neurosurgery, Oslo University Hospital-Rikshospitalet, 0027 Oslo, Norway

5Department of Neurology, Oslo University Hospital-Rikshospitalet, 0027 Oslo, Norway

6Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Oslo University Hospital-Rikshospitalet, 0450 Oslo, Norway

7Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway

8Centre for Age-Related Medicine, Stavanger University Hospital, 4068 Stavanger, Norway

9Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institute, 17176 Stockholm, Sweden

Academic Editor:


1. Introduction

Self-report questionnaires have been applied to investigate the effects of STN-DBS on impulsivity. When assessed with the Temperament and Character Inventory-Revised , PD patients treated with DBS reported higher impulsivity scores compared to healthy controls . Using the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale , another study found significantly higher impulsivity scores in DBS-treated patients than in PD patients without DBS . Previous studies were either experimental/lab-based studies or investigated personality traits with only one assessment tool. Collateral information about behavioural change has not been reported.

2.1. Subjects

Personality Changes After Concussion

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury caused by an impact to your head. Sometimes the symptoms may linger in what is known as post-concussion syndrome.

Symptoms may include:

  • headaches
  • a personality change, in some cases

An injury to the brain may affect how you understand and express emotions. It could also result in a personality change due to your emotional reaction to the changes in your life brought about by the brain injury.

Therapy or counseling may help you understand your personality change.

What Is Parkinson Disease

Parkinson disease is a movement disorder. It can cause the muscles to tighten and become rigid This makes it hard to walk and do other daily activities. People with Parkinsons disease also have tremors and may develop cognitive problems, including memory loss and dementia.

Parkinson disease is most common in people who are older than 50. The average age at which it occurs is 60. But some younger people may also get Parkinson disease. When it affects someone younger than age 50, it’s called early-onset Parkinson disease. You may be more likely to get early-onset Parkinson disease if someone in your family has it. The older you are, the greater your risk of developing Parkinson disease. It’s also much more common in men than in women.


Parkinson disease is a chronic and progressive disease.  It doesn’t go away and continues to get worse over time.

Personality Changes In Parkinsons Disease

Personality changes occur frequently in people with PD. The caregivers of the Parkinsons patients are frequently heard saying that Parkinsons has made their relatives different, that something has discernibly altered their loved ones. Frontal cortical damage could account for some of the behavioral and personality changes that are seen in PD patients, such as depression, mental lethargy, mood swings, and irritability. On the other hand, obsessive compulsive behavior such as binge-eating, hypersexuality, and pathological gambling may be related to some drugs used to treat PD. The constellation of such traits are collectively called as Parkinsons personality

A Parkinsons personality is often mentioned in relation to PD patients. Certain personality traits have been noted in people with PD which includes being hard-working, ambitious, serious-minded, dogmatic and honest. They are less likely to have any addictions to alcohol, tobacco or drugs. These traits may be present even before the development of PD. One theory that may explain this is that loss of dopamine starts long before the manifestation of motor symptoms.

Review Of Empirical Research

Against this complicated backdrop, we examine empirical evidence pertaining to personality change following DBS. We evaluate the types of methods used to study this question, and we summarize and integrate research findings across personality characteristics. Finally, we list a number of strategies for advancing research.

Other Causes Of Parkinsonism

“Parkinsonism” is the umbrella term used to describe the symptoms of tremors, muscle rigidity and slowness of movement.

Parkinson’s disease is the most common type of parkinsonism, but there are also some rarer types where a specific cause can be identified.

These include parkinsonism caused by:

  • medication where symptoms develop after taking certain medications, such as some types of antipsychotic medication, and usually improve once the medication is stopped
  • other progressive brain conditions such as progressive supranuclear palsy, multiple systems atrophy and corticobasal degeneration
  • cerebrovascular disease where a series of small strokes cause several parts of the brain to die

You can read more about parkinsonism on the Parkinson’s UK website.

Page last reviewed: 30 April 2019 Next review due: 30 April 2022

Lyme Disease Personality Changes

Some of the symptoms of Lyme disease, which is transmitted to people from the bite of an infected blacklegged tick, may include physical signs, such as a rash, and psychological signs, including mood swings.

In a 2012 study, nearly a quarter of people in the early stages of Lyme disease reported feeling irritable. Roughly 10 percent of the people said they felt anxious.

What Is Parkinsons Disease


Parkinsons is a neurological illness caused by degeneration or breaking down of cells in the nervous system, explained Dr. Shprecher. The nature of Parkinsons Disease is progressive, meaning that it gets worse over time. To comprehend the natural progression of the disease, we should understand its five stages, as explained by the Parkinsons Foundation.

Stage One

Individuals experience mild symptoms that generally do not interfere with daily activities. Tremor and other movement symptoms occur on one side of the body only. They may also experience changes in posture, walking and facial expressions.

Stage Two

Symptoms worsen, including tremor, rigidity and other movement symptoms on both sides of the body. The person is still able to live alone, but daily tasks are more difficult and lengthier.

Stage Three

This is considered mid-stage. Individuals experience loss of balance and slowness of movements. While still fully independent, these symptoms significantly impair activities such as dressing and eating. Falls are also more common by stage three.

Stage Four

Symptoms are severe and limiting. Individuals may stand without help, but movement likely requires a walker. People in stage four require help with daily activities and are unable to live alone.

Stage Five

What Are The Complications Of Parkinson Disease

Parkinson disease causes physical symptoms at first. Problems with cognitive function, including forgetfulness and trouble with concentration, may arise later. As the disease gets worse with time, many people develop dementia. This can cause profound memory loss and makes it hard to maintain relationships.

Parkinson disease dementia can cause problems with:

  • Speaking and communicating with others
  • Problem solving
  • Forgetfulness
  • Paying attention

If you have Parkinson disease and dementia, in time, you likely won’t be able to live by yourself. Dementia affects your ability to care of yourself, even if you can still physically do daily tasks.

Experts don’t understand how or why dementia often occurs with Parkinson disease. Its clear, though, that dementia and problems with cognitive function are linked to changes in the brain that cause problems with movement. As with Parkinson disease, dementia occurs when nerve cells degenerate, leading to chemical changes in the brain. Parkinson disease dementia may be treated with medicines also used to treat Alzheimer’s disease, another type of dementia.

Parkinson’s Personality: Disease More Likely To Strike Cautious People

30 April 2012

Some personality traits appear to be linked with the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, a new study suggests.

The results show patients with Parkinson’s disease are more likely to be cautious and avoid taking risks compared with people who don’t have Parkinson’s.

Moreover, the tendency to avoid taking risks appears to be a stable personality trait across a patient’s lifetime as far back as 30 years before symptoms began, those with Parkinson’s disease said they did not often engage in risky or exhilarating activities, such as riding roller coasters or speeding, the study found.

The findings add to a growing body of research suggesting Parkinson’s is more likely to afflict people with rigid, cautious personalities.

It’s possible that what we consider to be aspects of someone’s personality may in fact be very early manifestations of Parkinson’s, said study researcher Kelly Sullivan, of the University of South Florida’s department of neurology. However, much more research is needed to confirm this hypothesis, Sullivan said.

It’s also way too soon to say that having a “look before you leap” personality puts you at risk for Parkinson’s.

“I’m not a big risk-taker, but at the same time, I haven’t resigned myself that I’m going to have Parkinson’s,” Sullivan said.

Parkinson’s personality

They also asked questions to gauge participants’ current personalities.

Too little dopamine

Pass it on: Parkinson’s diseases patients tend to have more cautious personalities.

Parkinson’s In Adolf Hitler

There’s speculation that Adolf Hitler may have suffered from Parkinson’s disease by the end of his life in 1945, he had a major tremor in his left hand. At least one study suggests that Hitler’s disease and his so-called “Parkinson’s personality” may have contributed to Germany’s defeat in World War II.

In that study, a team of neurologists speculated that Hitler’s “questionable and risky decision-making and his inhumane and callous personality” both were influenced and magnified by Parkinson’s disease.

However, Hitler may have had other medical conditions that contributed to his temperament and personality he might have suffered from bipolar disorder , and he may also have been a drug addict.

Mild Cognitive Impairment And Dementia

Cognitive impairment and the development of dementia are increasingly being considered part of the course of Parkinsons disease. Of particular importance, nearly 90% of PD patients with dementia exhibit at least one neuropsychiatric symptom, and 77% have two or more neuropsychiatric symptoms. Risk factors for the development of mild cognitive impairment include older age at disease onset, male gender, depression, severity of motor symptoms, and advanced disease stage .

The prevalence of dementia in PD is estimated at 26% to 44%, with over 80% developing dementia within 20 years of diagnosis. Mild cognitive impairment in people with PD is associated with the development of dementia within 4 years . Depression can exacerbate cognitive impairments in PD, and the frequency of depression in PD is estimated at 25% to 33% .

In a study that examined clusters of neuropsychiatric symptoms and cognitive status in PD, it was found that in people suffering from hallucinations nearly 80% had dementia; in those with mixed neuropsychiatric symptoms nearly 58% had dementia; and in those with mild depression 31% had dementia. Patients experiencing hallucinations tended to have longer disease duration, more severe motor symptoms, and older age .

Adderall And Personality Changes

The prescription drug Adderall is the brand name for the combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. Its mainly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder .

Among the reported side effects of stimulants like Adderall are new or increased hostility and aggressive behavior. However, this appears to be related to misuse of the medication.

Children and teenagers may have new psychotic or manic episodes.

Thinking & Behavior Changes

Changes in thinking and memory can be frustrating and frightening for both the person with Parkinsons and the family. The videos on this page will help you understand, acknowledge and adapt to these changes so you can provide the best possible care for your loved one.

Part 1 supplies strategies to help you cope with your loved ones confusion and memory problems. Part 2 addresses how to respond to behavior changes that can occur as a result of hallucinations, delusions and dementia. It is important to remember it is the disease talking, not your loved one. For more information, order your free copies of the Parkinsons Foundation publications Cognition and Psychosis: A Mind Guide to Parkinsons online or by calling our Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO .

In 2016, the Parkinsons Foundation hosted a Caregiver Summit that brought together caregivers from all over the U.S. and the world to share experiences and everyday strategies for coping with the complex problems that arise as a result of Parkinsons. If you missed the event, dont worry! All the general sessions were recorded and are available on our YouTube channel.

Watch the video below for a first-hand account of one womans experiences after her husbands diagnosis with what health care professionals call Parkinsons disease psychosis.

Does Personality Change Follow Deep Brain Stimulation In Parkinson’s Disease Patients

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder affecting ~3 per 1,000 people over age 40 . Classic symptoms of PD include tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity, and postural instability . There has been growing recognition of the importance of non-motor symptoms in PD , including sensory processing difficulties, sleep problems, pain, autonomic changes, anxiety, depression, diminished initiative, psychotic symptoms, and dementia . The primary classic morphological indicator of PD is the loss of pigmented neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta reflecting loss of dopaminergic neurons; however, neuropathological studies have documented that the disease involves multiple brain regions and neurotransmitter systems as it progresses consistent with the diverse symptoms associated with the disease.

Do Antidepressants Change Your Personality

11 complications of Parkinson

Antidepressant medications are commonly prescribed to treat major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Among their side effects may be personality changes.

A 2012 study suggests that people who take Paxil, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor , not only become less depressed but also become more confident and outgoing.

The more extreme the personality change, the less likely the person would have relapses. However, more research in this area is needed.

Emotional Aspects Of Parkinsons

It is important to examine the various emotions that a person living with Parkinsons disease can undergo in living daily with the condition. The emotional factors that affect your loved one can be both internal and external. Some changes that occur can be directly due to the disease process, which causes an alteration in brain chemistry. Other emotional changes are influenced by external factors and the persons reaction to those factors.

Having a chronic neurological condition is stressful, and people react to stress in different ways. Some see it as a challenge and others see it as a problem. Parkinsons disease has a significant impact on family and friends and can create many emotions. These emotions include:


Denial, a feeling of shock and disbelief is a common reaction, especially at the time of initial diagnosis and early in the disease process. Since PD can have a subtle onset before an actual diagnosis is made, people often attribute symptoms to other causes. People also sometimes report a general feeling of uneasiness or an anxious, depressed feeling prior to diagnosis. When a diagnosis is finally made, it can come partially as a relief, but there is often shock and fear of the future.


Depression is one of the most common reactions to Parkinsons disease, occurring in roughly 50 percent of clients. Some doctors feel that depression may actually be part of the disease process. PD medications can also cause depression in some patients.


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