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Impulsivity
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Physicians Guide to the Management of Huntington's Disease
The Cognitive Disorder (CHAPTER 4)
Impulsivity

Some persons with HD experience difficulties with impulse control and may develop problem behaviors such as irritability, temper outbursts, sexual promiscuity and acting without thinking. Some degree of impulsivity and dysregulation of behaviors is quite common in HD. Some strategies to help family members and caregivers cope with impulsivity are addressed below.

TABLE 7: COPING STRATEGIES FOR IMPULSIVITY

  • Since the person with HD cannot control his responses, a predictable daily schedule can reduce confusion, fear and, as a result, outbursts.
  • It is possible that a behavior is a response to something that needs your attention. Don't be too quick to discount it as an outburst.
  • Stay calm. This will help you remain able to think and not react emotionally and impulsively yourself. In addition, staying calm may help the person calm down.
 
 
  • Let the person know that yelling is not the best way to get your attention and offer alternative methods for getting your attention.
     
  • Remember, although the things being said are hurtful or embarrassing, generally the person is not doing this intentionally. This is the HD talking, not your loved one.
     
  • The person may be remorseful afterward. Be sensitive to his efforts to apologize.
     
  • Do not badger the person after the fact. It won't help. Remember, this lack of control, likely, is not by choice.
     
  • Medications may be helpful for outbursts and sexually inappropriate behavior. Talk to your physician.