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Dopamine Dysregulation Syndrome and other psychiatric problems in Parkinson’s Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment [Turk J Neurol]
Turk J Neurol. 2011; 17(2): 65-75

Dopamine Dysregulation Syndrome and other psychiatric problems in Parkinson’s Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment

Sibel Ertan, Gülçin Benbir
Istanbul University Cerrahpasa Faculty Of Medicine Department Of Neurology Istanbul, Turkey

In a small number of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), a series of behavioral disorders included within the spectrum of impulsive-compulsive disorders develop under the dopamine replacement therapy (DRT). These behaviors are grouped into three as “impulse control disorders (ICD)” characterized by rewards-seeking behaviors, “punding” characterized by aimless, ritualist stereotypical repetative behaviors, and “dopamine dysregulation syndrome (DDS)” characterized by drug overuse due to chemical addiction. The prevalance of DDS in PD was reported to be around 3-4%. Patients with DDS have an urge to increase their dopaminergic doses beyond their needs for parkinsonien symptoms. DDS is reported to be more common especially in patients with an early onset of disease, high doses of DRT, previous history of or current depression, history of alcohol or substance abuse, and in those having impulsive personality constantly seeking for a change or novelty. DDS is commonly observed in association with “punding” and ICD. The pathophysiology underlying these disorders is explained by specific mechanisms in addition to DRT. Dopamine is not only responsible in the control of the movement, but also plays an important role in the modulation of brain reward systems. The potential maladaptive dysfunction of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system underlies the pathogenesis of DDS. Although the most potent trigger of DDS in PD is known as L-dopa, subcutaneous apomorphine and oral dopamine agonists could also be responsible from the development of DDS. The patients and caregivers should be informed for these behavioral disorders that might emerge under DRT, the possible risk factors should be questioned before dopaminergic therapy, and the choice of drug should be made under these concerns. In patients with DDS, fast-acting DRT formulations should be avoided. In DDS cases associated with hypomaniac or psychotic episodes, treatment should made with hospitalization.

Keywords: Dopamine dysregulation syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, impulse control disorder.


Sibel Ertan, Gülçin Benbir. Dopamine Dysregulation Syndrome and other psychiatric problems in Parkinson’s Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment. Turk J Neurol. 2011; 17(2): 65-75

Corresponding Author: Gülçin Benbir, Türkiye


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