Science Time 101: Depression and Parkinson’s Disease

It’s funny, you’d think a fair amount of depression or extreme emotion would come with a life altering diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and it does. I mean really I’d just turned 40 when I started my diagnosis process and then after a year and a half of tests and failed treatments a very kind and very talented Chinese doctor took one look, 40 min visit and looked me in the eye and said I have PD. Sure it was pretty heavy at the time but little did I know everything in my life has changed. Below you’ll find two articles that I’ve been re-reading as I’ve been struggling greatly as of late.

Depression

For people with Parkinson’s, depression is quite common and disabling—and it is the symptom most often overlooked. Up to 60 percent of people with Parkinson’s experience mild or moderate depressive symptoms. In fact, research suggests that the disease itself causes chemical changes in the brain that may lead to depression.

Parkinson’s affects many parts of the brain that are important in controlling mood. One of these is the area that produces serotonin, a brain chemical implicated in depression. Another part of the brain important in regulating mood—the frontal lobe—is known to be under-active in Parkinson’s. Commonly prescribed antidepressants can help. In addition to medications, cognitive-behavioral therapy has also been shown to help some people with Parkinson’s.

Other researchers have found that people with Parkinson’s who were depressed had more trouble with daily activities, and were more likely to begin medication for motor symptoms sooner than those without depressive symptoms. Depression decreased their quality of life and made their motor symptoms worse—but treating the depression, rather than the motor symptoms, improved both quality of life and movement. If you feel you are doing very poorly, yet your doctor finds only mild physical impairments during your exam, you may be depressed. Depression can range from feelings of sadness and discouragement to extreme hopelessness. These feelings generally are different from the grief and frustration you may feel as a result of your diagnosis.

Tell your doctor if you are having these symptoms.
** Source

Cognitive Impairment

Another troublesome symptom of Parkinson’s is mild cognitive impairment. Many people with Parkinson’s are surprised to find that they feel distracted or disorganized, or have difficulty planning and carrying through tasks. It may be harder to focus in situations that divide their attention, like a group conversation. When facing a task or situation on their own, a person with PD may feel overwhelmed by having to make choices. They may also have difficulty remembering information, or have trouble finding the right words when speaking. For some people these changes are merely annoying, for others they interfere with work or with managing household affairs.

To some degree, cognitive impairment affects most people with Parkinson’s. The same brain changes that lead to motor symptoms can also result in slowness in memory and thinking. Stress, medication, and depression can also contribute to these changes.

It is important to tell your doctor if you have concerns about cognitive changes. You may need to change your medication. Or you may be referred to a neurologist or neuropsychiatrist for assessment. An occupational therapist can then work with you on strategies for adapting to, and coping with these symptoms. A speech therapist can help with language difficulties.

Cognitive impairment is different from dementia, which is a more severe loss of intellectual abilities that interferes with daily living so much that it may not be possible for a person to live independently. Two recent long-term studies suggest that many people with Parkinson’s will eventually develop a mild form of dementia as the disease progresses, usually many years after their initial diagnosis. One medication, Exelon ®(rivastigmine tartrate), is now available to treat dementia in Parkinson’s, and others are under study.

To learn more on this topic, read the article below by Alexander Tröster, Ph.D.

For further reading please follow the link. Cognition and Parkinson’s

** needless to say as a normal guy I’ve made some pretty huge mistakes but I have to say that if there was any one singular thing that I have a huge problem with is my cognition and emotional regulation. Which is funny because most ppl would say I’m pretty ” mellow ” when in fact lol I fight my demons daily,

I can handle the neuro-muscular pain of PD and I don’t mind the crazy neuropathy but the feeling of helplessness in my head will be the end of me I’m sure. Any how this isn’t about me, it’s about creating a world that has a better understanding and level of compassion for those in need. Again I hope world has been kind to you and you to it, please remember to always be brave,be bold and thrive in the life you have you never know when or how things will change.

Always,
B.
“A life in progress”

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10 thoughts on “Science Time 101: Depression and Parkinson’s Disease

  1. My dearest Ben, what a heart wrenching and beautifully honest post. Thank you for sharing it with us. You remain my hero and inspiration. Though it may not feel like it, the fact that you can feel so low and still carry on as you do only speaks all the more to the strength that I admire so much in you. That being said, I desperately wish that your strength was not being tested so brutally and often. As I’ve said before, it’s so unfair.
    Big hugs to you. You’re in my thoughts as always. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • My dear friend, youve been with ne on this journey since my begining days, for the bottom of my heart thank you. Though youve always given me inspiration to carry one, so really your the hero. Truly.
      Your RL and blogger buddy.
      B.

      Like

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