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Aggression, Frustration & Irritability
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Published by HOPES
(Huntington's Outreach Project for Education, at Stanford University)

Although some people suffering from HD may remain even tempered, others may lose the ability to control their emotions. Emotional volatility may be evident in increased irritability or episodes of explosiveness.

A study on mice with the HD allele of the Huntington gene found that mice portrayed abnormal social behavior, particularly chronic aggressive behavior.

For others, rigidity of thinking causes the individual to focus on one particular request. This individual may become irritable, frustrated or aggressive if demands are not met. To read more about the study on mice with the HD allele, click here.

When the caudate nucleus has deteriorated, emotions are improperly regulated, causing an increase in feelings of frustration and irritability. These feelings are often legitimate and triggered by something in the environment.

The brain, however, cannot control the intensity of the emotion. Several factors may contribute to the feelings of intense frustration, etc:

  • Hunger
  • Pain
  • Inability to communicate
  • Changes in routine
  • Loss of ability to perform certain tasks

HD causes changes in the brain that often make it difficult for a person with HD to see anothers point of view. As a result, the individual may become easily frustrated or irritated if his or her views or ideas are challenged. A person with HD can rapidly escalate into severe anger; however, he or she can also calm down very quickly.

If you would like to read about one womans personal experience of dealing with a husband suffering from these behavioral symptoms, click here.