Depression and Parkinson’s Disease

November 24, 2014
Depression can be a common symptom of Parkinson's Disease

Depression can be a common symptom of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease can be a difficult disease to manage and its complications can be challenging for the family caregiver to address.  Unfortunately, mild to moderate depressive symptoms can be some of the most challenging issues to address.  Depression can impact so many aspects of daily living such as exercise, social interaction, appetite and sleep interruption.

Depression and Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s itself can cause depression, even in someone who has never suffered from it before. The statics vary, but it is thought that mild to moderate depression affects approximately up to 60 percent of Parkinson’s sufferers. It is a clinical fact that anxiety and depression are symptoms of the disease. According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, research suggests that the disease itself causes chemical changes in the brain that may lead to depression.

Which Comes First?

Very often depression is one of the first symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. US News and World Report/Health indicates depression may predate a diagnosis of Parkinson’s by 5 to 10 years. Since the sufferer may not even realize anything is wrong, it may be up to family, friends and care givers to be alert to changes in behavior. Such changes include a lack of enjoyment for activities that used to bring joy. When did Dad give up his weekly golf game? Why doesn’t Grandma go to her club meetings anymore? Other warning signs include change of appetite, difficulty with concentration, inability to sleep or sleeping excessively, to name a few. An early diagnosis can be helpful in the long run as certain things that are vital in the overall treatment of Parkinson’s, like being socially active and exercising can be lost if depression is not controlled. According to the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) some of the common treatments for the depression associated with Parkinson’s are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, a psychotherapy or talk therapy designed to change people’s negative thinking and behavior
  • SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) type of antidepressant, commonly known as Prozac and Zoloft
  • SNRI (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) type of antidepressant medication similar to SSRI commonly known as Effexor and Cymbalta.

Watch for Signs of Depression in Parkinson’s

  1. Excessive worrying
  2. Persistent sadness
  3. Crying
  4. Loss of interest in usual activities and hobbies
  5. Increased fatigue and lack of energy
  6. Feelings of guilt
  7. Loss of motivation
  8. Complaints of aches and pains
  9. Feelings of being a burden to loved ones
  10. Ruminations about disability, death and dying

As with any ongoing medical treatment, consult your physician if you notice changing symptoms in yourself or the loved one that you may be providing care.

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