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Parkinson’s Personality: Disease More Likely to Strike Cautious People
Some personality traits appearِ to beِ linked withِ theِ risk ofِ developing Parkinson’s disease, a newِ study suggests.
The results show patients withِ Parkinson’s disease areِ more likelyِ to beِ cautious andِ avoid takingِ risks compared withِ people whoِ don’tِ have Parkinson’s.
Moreover, theِ tendency toِ avoid takingِ risks appears toِ beِ a stable personality trait across a patient’s lifetime — asِ far backِ asِ 30 years beforeِ symptoms began, thoseِ with Parkinson’s disease saidِ they didِ not oftenِ engage inِ risky orِ exhilarating activities, suchِ asِ riding roller coasters orِ speeding, theِ study found.
Since theِ early 1900s, thereِ haveِ beenِ reports thatِ Parkinson’s patients tend toِ beِ industrious, punctual, cautious andِ risk-averse.
Most studies thatِ haveِ foundِ a link betweenِ Parkinson’s andِ a risk- avoidant personality haveِ beenِ based onِ assessments ofِ patients’ personalities prior toِ theِ disease, usingِ questions suchِ asِ did youِ takeِ risks whenِ you wereِ younger.
However, remembering whatِ you wereِ likeِ many years agoِ may beِ difficult, andِ what someoneِ considers a risk isِ subjective, Sullivan said.
They also asked questions to gauge participants’ current personalities.
The results showed thatِ participants withِ Parkinson’s hadِ higher levels ofِ neuroticism — a personality trait associatedِ with experiencing moreِ negative emotions suchِ asِ anxiety — andِ higher levels ofِ harm-avoidance compared withِ healthy participants.
In general, participants’ willingness toِ takeِ risks tended toِ beِ stable overِ time, andِ Parkinson’s patients tended toِ report theyِ took fewerِ risks.
Another study byِ Sullivan andِ colleagues foundِ women withِ Parkinson’s disease wereِ 60 percent moreِ likelyِ to sayِ they hadِ a routine lifestyle asِ a young adult (such asِ getting upِ andِ going toِ bed atِ the sameِ time everyِ day) compared withِ people withoutِ Parkinson’s.
Too little dopamine
A brain chemical called dopamine isِ needed toِ control muscle movement, andِ in Parkinson’s disease patients, theِ brain cells thatِ produce dopamine start toِ die.
Dopamine isِ responsible forِ signaling feelings ofِ reward andِ pleasure.
When youِ takeِ a risk orِ jump outِ ofِ anِ airplane, that’s whatِ givesِ you thatِ reward feeling, Sullivan said.