Primary focal dystonia: Evidence for distinct neuropsychiatric and personality profiles

R. Lencer*, S. Steinlechner, J. Stahlberg, H. Rehling, M. Orth, T. Baeumer, H. J. Rumpf, C. Meyer, C. Klein, A. Muenchau, J. Hagenah

*Corresponding author for this work
78 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Primary focal dystonia (PFD) is characterised by motor symptoms. Frequent co-occurrence of abnormal mental conditions has been mentioned for decades but is less well defined. In this study, prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders, personality disorders and traits in a large cohort of patients with PFD were evaluated. Methods: Prevalence rates of clinical psychiatric diagnoses in 86 PFD patients were compared with a population based sample (n = 3943) using a multiple regression approach. Furthermore, participants were evaluated for personality traits with the 5 Factor Personality Inventory. Results: Lifetime prevalence for any psychiatric or personality disorder was 70.9%. More specifically, axis I disorders occurred at a 4.5-fold increased chance. Highest odds ratios were found for social phobia (OR 21.6), agoraphobia (OR 16.7) and panic disorder (OR 11.5). Furthermore, an increased prevalence rate of 32.6% for anxious personality disorders comprising obsessive-compulsive (22.1%) and avoidant personality disorders (16.3%) were found. Except for social phobia, psychiatric disorders manifested prior to the occurrence of dystonia symptoms. In the self-rating of personality traits, PFD patients demonstrated pronounced agreeableness, conscientiousness and reduced openness. Conclusions: Patients with PFD show distinct neuropsychiatric and personality profiles of the anxiety spectrum. PFD should therefore be viewed as a neuropsychiatric disorder rather than a pure movement disorder.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)1176-1179
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 10.2009

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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