The Link Between Depression and Parkinson's Disease
Depression is common in people who have Parkinson's disease, a slow, progressive, and chronic neurodegenerative brain disease. Actor Michael J. Fox put a public face on this disease and many of us have seen him exhibit some of the trademark Parkinson's symptoms, such as shaking, tremors, slow movements, and stiffness or rigidity in the arms, legs, or trunk. Parkinson's disease also affects balance, speech, and smell.
Forty to 50 percent of Parkinson's patients also suffer from depression. Not only does it cause poorer quality of life for patients, depression is associated with faster progression of physical symptoms and greater cognitive decline. It's difficult to diagnose depression in Parkinson's patients; the symptoms often overlap and depressive symptoms can occur in Parkinson's patients who don't have depression. Furthermore, this disease affects the muscles of the face, so Parkinson's patients appear to express less emotion and they have trouble recognizing emotion in themselves.
It's understandable that someone with a chronic disease would experience depression. However, many patients suffer from depression or anxiety two to five years before they are diagnosed with Parkinson's, leading scientists to suspect depression is actually part of the disease. Regions of the brain affected by Parkinson's disease overlap with areas involved in depression.
It's important to recognize symptoms of depression so you can seek help. Depressed individuals lose interest in pleasurable activities; have poor attention and concentration; low energy; suicidal thoughts; and experience feelings of self-blame, worthlessness, and guilt.
Fortunately, many treatments for depression are also effective in patients who have Parkinson's disease.
Antidepressants. In addition to current antidepressants, scientists are conducting clinical trials on new medications to treat depression.
Psychological treatments. Studies show that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy may be as effective as antidepressants for treating depression in Parkinson's patients, and may even be better for preventing a relapse. It's a good alternative for people who can't, or don't want to, take antidepressants.
Healthy lifestyle. Research shows that exercising, eating healthy, and staying socially connected alleviates depressive symptoms.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). ECT is one of the most effective treatments for severe or non-responsive depression and it temporarily improves Parkinson's motor control symptoms.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Repetitive TMS over a part of the brain involved in depression and cognitive function has antidepressant effects in patients with Parkinson's. Best of all, TMS has few side effects.
Alternative treatments. Many patients find relief from light or music therapy, relaxation techniques, massage, acupuncture, and meditation.
Parkinson's Disease Foundation. "Depression." Web. http://www.pdf.org/en/depression_pd
Menza, Matthew, M.D. "Combating Depression in Parkinson's Disease." PDF News & Review Spring 2009. Web. http://www.pdf.org/en/combating_depression
Tom, T., and Cummings, J.L. "Depression in Parkinson's disease: Pharmacological characteristics and treatment." Drugs Aging 12(1) (1998): 55-74. Web. http://biopsychiatry.com/parkdepr.htm
National Parkinson Foundation. "PD 101." Web. https://www.parkinson.org/Parkinson-s-Disease/PD-101
National Parkinson Foundation. "Depression." Web.
DeFronzo Dobkin, Roseanne, Ph.D., Menza, Matthew, MD, and Bienfait, Karina L., PhD. "CBT for the Treatment of Depression in Parkinson's Disease: A Promising Nonpharmacological Approach." Expert Review of Neurotherapy 8(1) (2008): 27-35. Medscape Medical News. Web. 15 April 2008. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/571634
Brooks, Megan. "Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Helpful in Parkinsonian Depression." Medscape Medical News. Web. 2 September 2010. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/728002
Busko, Marlene. "Depression Common But Often Untreated in Early Parkinson's Disease." Medscape Medical News. Web. 17 July 2007. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/559919
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.