Mental Health Problems and Depression in Parkinson’s Disease

There are certain mental problems which have been associated with Parkinson’s disease as symptoms of the disease. These include hallucinations, paranoia and delusions, some of which are thought to be brought on by the side effects of medication while others may be complications of the disease itself. Depression is another mental health problem that is commonly seen in Parkinson’s disease often due to the impact this disease has on a person’s life.

Hallucinations, Paranoia and Delusions

Hallucinations, paranoia and delusion are all perception disturbances. The most common form of hallucination is the patient’s ability to see things which others do not. Delusions are personal beliefs that go against fact or reason and are false beliefs. Paranoia usually brings feelings of being followed or beliefs that you are going to be harmed in some unforeseen way.

How these disturbances are treated

A through background check into the patients history will be taken in order to rule out any other conditions which could cause hallucinations, delusions or paranoia. Things your doctor will look for are imbalances in the chemicals in blood that help to control the levels of water in the body and transmitting nerve impulses. Other infections such as those of the kidney and liver or lung failure can also cause mental disturbances.

The side effects of some of the medications used in the treatment of the disease can also cause mental disturbances, with some medications being more likely to cause problems than others. In patients who are affected in this way by their medication then their doctor will probably recommend switching to a different form of medication.

Patients who are affected but who cannot easily accept changes to their medication without it causing problems with their motor skills symptoms might be better treated with anti-psychotic medications. Older neuroleptics such as Melleril and Haldol have been known to worsen motor skill symptoms and other alternatives can now be used such as Zyprexa, Seroquel and Clozaril.

These are all known to control hallucinations effectively whithout worsening the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The downside is that there will be a 2% chance that there will be a drop in the white blood cell count and frequent blood testing will be required.

Depression with Parkinson’s Disease

Depression is a serious illness that can affect anyone at anytime in their life. It is characteried by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety and fatigue. People who suffer from Parkinson’s disease not only have to contend with the disease itself but over 50% of people suffering will also have to contend with depression as well.

There is no clear reason which determines why those suffering from Parkinson’s disease have depression. It is often surmised that with Parkinson’s being a debilitating progressive disease, this triggers or causes depression. However, the side effects of drugs and the disease mechanism itself may also play a role.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Persistent feelings of sadness and anxiety.
  • Feelings of guilt and helplessness.
  • A loss of interest in hobbies.
  • A loss of interest in sex.
  • A decrease in energy.
  • Difficulty in remembering and concentrating.
  • Problems with sleep.
  • Changes to the appetite or weight.
  • Irritability and restlessness.
  • Suicidal or negative thoughts.

If you have five or more of these symptoms and they last for longer than two weeks you may be suffering from depression, it is important you visit your Doctor who can then asses you for depression and suggest any relevant treatment.

A lot of the symptoms listed above are very similar to symptoms which Parkinson’s disease will normally bring about in the course of time, however your Doctor should be able to distinguish between what are symptoms of your disease and those which may be down to depression.

Getting treatment for depression

Coping with Parkinson’s is hard enough on its own so it is very important that if you think you may be suffering from depression too you get it treated, treatment for depression when combined with Parkinson’s disease should always be controlled by a mental health professional.

This is critical especially when anti depressant medication is needed and prescribed, this will help to alleviate any potential drug interactions between the anti depressant and your Parkinson’s medication.

Recovery from depression is a long process especially if you have been depressed for some time without fully realising it and the medications which are often prescribed for depression can take several weeks to start working to their full potential.

The amount of medication needed for your depression will vary and the dosage may have to be altered to suit you, but no matter how advanced your Parkinson’s is, treatment for depression can be very successful.

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