Symptoms May Include.

Movement disorders

The movement disorders associated with Huntington’s disease can include both involuntary movements and impairments in voluntary movements:

Involuntary jerking or writhing movements (chorea)

Muscle problems, such as rigidity or muscle contracture (dystonia)

Slow or abnormal eye movements

Impaired gait, posture and balance

Difficulty with the physical production of speech or swallowing

Impairments in voluntary movements — rather than the involuntary movements — may have a greater impact on a person’s ability to work, perform daily activities, communicate and remain independent.

Cognitive disorders

Cognitive impairments often associated with Huntington’s disease include:

Difficulty organizing, prioritizing or focusing on tasks

Lack of flexibility or the tendency to get stuck on a thought, behavior or action (perseveration)

Lack of impulse control that can result in outbursts, acting without thinking and sexual promiscuity

Lack of awareness of one’s own behaviors and abilities

Slowness in processing thoughts or ”finding” words

Difficulty in learning new information

Psychiatric disorders

The most common psychiatric disorder associated with Huntington’s disease is depression. This isn’t simply a reaction to receiving a diagnosis of Huntington’s disease. Instead, depression appears to occur because of injury to the brain and subsequent changes in brain function. Signs and symptoms may include:

Feelings of irritability, sadness or apathy

Social withdrawal


Fatigue and loss of energy

Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide

Other common psychiatric disorders include:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, a condition marked by recurrent, intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors

Mania, which can cause elevated mood, overactivity, impulsive behavior and inflated self-esteem

Bipolar disorder, or alternating episodes of depression and mania