From Apathy to Compulsive Behavior

Compulsive behaviour is when someone has an overwhelming urge to act in a particular way. This is usually out of character and the person may be unaware of their personality changes.

EPDA definition of Compulsive Behavior

Every once in a while, it seems like all of the PD bloggers start writing independently about the same topic.  Several weeks ago, I wrote about Apathy after reading an article posted on a PD website.  That same week, numerous other bloggers wrote about the same thing.  So last week I started thinking about doing a follow up blog post about Compulsive Behavior, since a number of you had commented about that being as big an issue as Apathy.

As I started to write about it, there was suddenly a flurry of blog posts about, you guessed it ……..Compulsive behavior!    Is it something I said?  Is there something in the blogosphere that leads all of us down the same path?

So, I took a break from writing, thinking that I could find something else to write about. But my compulsive behavior got the better of me and here I am, writing about it anyway.

Some people say that it is the medications that we take for Parkinson’s that cause complusive behavior.   Another theory is that we get a release of dopamine when we receive a reward of any kind.  The more we are rewarded, the more dopamine is released.  This is why some people  with Parkinson’s become compulsive gamblers or shoppers.  The rewards can be a closet full of shoes you don’t need or wear, or hitting it big (very rarely) at a casino.  And you just keep going back for more and more.   Unfortunately, these behaviors can become very destructive, and expensive!

Whenever you visit your Neurologist or Movement Disorder Specialist, you are probably asked if you exhibit any compulsive behaviors.  Adjustments in your medications or seeing a psychologist can help keep things in check.  Sometimes we do not recognize these behaviors in ourselves, so it is important that a family member or caregiver accompany you occasionally to your doctor’s visit.  They can give a more objective view about any compulsive behaviors that you show.

shoe-collection
So many shoes, so little time!
I found a good article about Compulsive behavior on the EPDA (European Parkinson’s Disease Association) website.  According to the article, there are good and bad compulsive behaviors that are consistent with PD.  Good compulsive behaviors may include taking up or renewing a new hobby such as painting, or learning to play the piano.  However, if the urge to indulge in the behavior gets in the way of other things,  such as sleep, you need to consider scaling back, as with bad compulsive behaviors.

So the bottom line is:  be aware of changes in your behavior that are indicative of compulsive behavior and be pro-active about seeking help when needed.

On a completely different topic, fellow Parkie Robert Smith just came out with a book, The Parkinson’s Playbook: A Game Plan to Put Your Parkinson’s Disease On the Defense which details how he turned his life around and is now mostly symptom-free and feeling great.  It has gotten very good reviews so far.  I have not yet read it, but would like feedback from anyone who has.

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