Depression and Impulsivity Self-Assessment Tools to Identify Dopamine Agonist Side Effects in Patients With Pituitary Adenomas

José Miguel Hinojosa-Amaya, Nathaniel Johnson, Christina González-Torres, Elena V. Varlamov, Christine G. Yedinak, Shirley McCartney, Maria Fleseriu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Dopamine agonists (DA) are the first line therapy for prolactinoma and symptomatic hyperprolactinemia; use as an adjuvant treatment for acromegaly and Cushing's disease is rare. Some patients develop de novo psychiatric symptoms or have exacerbation of pre-existing conditions during DA therapy. A practical, clinically sensitive depression and impulse control disorders (ICD; particularly hypersexuality and gambling disorders) detection tool is important for identifying at risk patients. The Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS-11) and the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) are sensitive in identifying impulsivity and depression. Objective: Detail use of the BIS-11 and PHQ-9 as screening tools for depression and ICD in patients with pituitary disease at a high-volume academic pituitary center. Methods: DA-treated and naïve patients with pituitary disease were included. Patients with a known history of depression or psychiatric disorder were excluded. PHQ-9 standardized interpretation criteria were utilized to classify depression severity. For BIS-11, threshold was established based on previous studies. Statistical analysis was with SPSS version 25. Results: Seventy-six DA-treated and 27 naïve patients were included. Moderate and moderately severe depression were more prevalent in DA-treated patients; severe depression only found in DA-treated patients. A normal BIS-11 score was noted in 76.69%; higher scores (not significant) were noted in DA-treated patients. There was a positive correlation between higher BIS-11 and PHQ-9 scores; higher in DA-treated patients (r = 0.52, p < 0.001) than DA-naïve patients. Patients with BIS-11 scores ≥60 were younger and received lower cumulative DA doses compared to patients with BIS scores <60. There was no association between male sex and BIS-11 ≥60 and male sex did not increase the odds of increased scores (OR = 0.66, CI95% 0.25–1.76, p = 0.41). No significant difference was found for macroadenoma, prolactin levels, testosterone levels, hypogonadism, testosterone replacement in men, and increased impulsivity or depression scores. Conclusion: Use of PHQ-9 and BIS-11 is practical for routine screening of depression and ICD during outpatient pituitary clinic visits for patients with pituitary disease both naïve to treatment and during DA therapy. We recommend close follow-up after initiation of DA therapy for younger patients, regardless of dose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number579606
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
StatePublished - Oct 27 2020


  • depression
  • dopamine agonist
  • hyperprocalctinemia
  • impulse control (pathology) disorders
  • impulsivity
  • patient health questionnaire
  • pituitary tumor
  • prolactinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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