Category: Newsworthy Notes

A person doesn’t have to have Parkinson’s to become depressed. From a survey taken in 2005 it indicated that about 6.7 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 and older have depression.

Depression affects YOUR entire BODY not only your brain and behavior. Depression has been linked with Parkinson’s disease. Depression is its own health issue. When both Depression and Parkinson’s are involved, dealing with both problems at the same time can be difficult.

Depression can be a serious mental illness that interferes with your daily life and routines, reducing your quality of life.

Symptoms or signs of Depression:

  • Fatigue – feeling tired all the time
  • Feeling Irritable and restlessness
  • Feeling of worthlessness, hopelessness or helplessness
  • Having empty feelings, or feelings of sadness or anxiety
  • Having a loss of interest in activities, including sex
  • Having difficulty focusing, or remembering or making decisions
  • Having a loss of appetite or overeating
  • Having insomnia or sleeping all of the time
  • Difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep
  • Feeling Guilty
  • Having thoughts of death or suicide
  • Experiencing body aches, pains, cramping, digestive problems, and headaches

Parkinson’s can also affect thinking and emotions and for people with depression and Parkinson’s disease, each illness can make symptoms of the other worse. For example, people with both illnesses tend to have more movement problems and greater levels of anxiety than those who have just depression or Parkinson’s disease. Compared with people who are depressed but do not have Parkinson’s, people who have both illnesses may have lower rates of sadness and guilt, but greater problems with concentration. One recent brain imaging study also suggests that people with Parkinson’s disease may have an unusually high number of reuptake pumps for the brain chemical messenger serotonin. Serotonin helps regulate mood, but overactive pumps reduce serotonin levels, possibly leading to depressive symptoms in some people with Parkinson’s disease.

Depression is diagnosed and treated by a health care provider. Treating depression can help you manage your Parkinson’s disease treatment and improve your overall health. Recovery from depression takes time and treatments can be effective.

At present, the most common treatments for depression include:

  • Exercise: The benefits of going for a run to alleviate stress after a tough day is well known; however, a new study has found that working up a sweat is relaxing and mood-boosting. Exercise actually detoxes harmful chemicals from the body and can alleviate depression. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden discovered that physical activity cleans the blood of a substance (kynurenine) that can be harmful to the brain and which accumulates during stress. Their study demonstrates that people who do not exercise end up feeling sluggish, depressed and are more prone to disease.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): a type of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, that helps people change negative thinking styles and behaviors that may contribute to their depression
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI): Types of antidepressant medication that includes citalopram (Celexa), sertraline (Zoloft), and fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI): Types of antidepressant medication similar to SSRI that includes venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta).

While currently available depression treatments, particularly SSRIs, may generally be well tolerated and safe for people with Parkinson’s, talk with your health care provider about side effects, possible drug interactions, and other treatment options.

Choosing the Right Mental Therapy

It is important to explore all psychotherapy or mental therapy options to choose the one that’s right for you. Your neurologist or Movement Disorder Specialist, may have suggestions for a particular therapist or facility that caters to people with Parkinson’s.

A Person with Parkinson’s may find it easier to deal with depression or anxiety through Psychotherapy, the “talking cure.” Some of the best types of psychotherapy for People with Parkinson’s are:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of therapy helps you learn about your patterns of thought and behavior and teaches you how to change or adapt inner processes that are contributing to feelings of depression or anxiety.
  • Interpersonal therapy. Working with a therapist, you review your personal relationships and work to eliminate friction and bad feelings that can cause or exacerbate depression.
  • Behavioral therapy. You are taught to deal with your anxiety by learning relaxation techniques as well as undergoing repeated and controlled exposure to the sources of your anxiety.
  • Group therapy. You may benefit from being in the same room with others living with Parkinson’s. In a group, you can learn coping skills while sharing feelings in a supportive atmosphere. You may learn about how you are perceived by others versus how you perceive yourself.

AND Dont Forget the Family

When one person in the family has Parkinson’s, it often creates stress and strain for everyone else. Family therapy can help everyone in the family deal with misunderstandings and sources of friction, and learn ways to work together as a team to better cope with the situation.

Another good place for families to come together is in support group settings where they can learn from and share with others going through similar situations.

In the Wellness Village, Parkinsons Resource Organization has begun populating the category of MENTAL HEALTH professionals. Please visit it often to discover the professionals that are there to help get PWPS and their family through the Parkinsons journey.

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Parkinson's Resource Organization
74785 Highway 111
Suite 208
Indian Wells, CA 92210

Local Phone
(760) 773-5628

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(877) 775-4111

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Updated: August 16, 2017