Understanding why Depression is Associated with Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a disease of motor functions, characterized by tremor, bradykinesia (slowness of movements), rigidity, and increased risk of fall. All this happens not due to problems in joints or damage to peripheral nerves, rather due to changes in the central nervous system (brain).
For decades, Parkinson’s disease was regarded as the disease of movements only, but slowly the understanding of it is changing. It is no secret that people suffering from Parkinson’s disease are more prone to psychological problems like anxiety and depression. The medical community considered depression in Parkinson’s disease as something that was the result of physical disability and disease.
“D” or depression has attracted lots of attention in the last few decades, especially due to several high-profile suicides related to it. This forced the scientific community to have a second look at the depression related to Parkinson’s disease. It has been found that depression is quite frequently associated with Parkinson’s disease. Almost half of patients suffer from it. 8-25 % of cases of Parkinson’s disease may suffer from major depression(1).
Well, this leads scientists to compare the prevalence of depression in other diseases that were at least more debilitating as compared to Parkinson’s disease. Think about spinal cord injury or post-stroke syndrome, where many people are left completely dependent on others. But when the prevalence of depression in Parkinson’s disease was compared to this kind of disability, it was found that association between Parkinson’s disease and “D” is much more common.
The Parkinson’s disease is often characterized by tremors, stiffness or rigidity and there is slowness in the movement of the individual. The occurrence of all of these is not due to any kind of issues in the joints or any damage caused to the peripheral nerves but instead it is due to changes occurring in the central nervous system or the brain. Gradually there has been change of views among the public about what exactly Parkinson’s is about and it is not only linked with movements. It is also seen that depression is quiet a common scenario among individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Depression is something which cannot be easily identified in the individual and at times even the best of the specialist fail to identify certain cases of depression in individual’s suffering from Parkinson’s disease. There are lot of changes in the individual who is suffering from depression such as they are always low in mood most of the day or every day, they tend to lose any interest in activities and often crib a lot about those which they used to enjoy at certain point of life, there are also dietary changes occurring due to which the individual may either gain or lose weight. The person tends to get angry or agitated for no obvious reasons, there is failure in concentration, they find it difficult to even carry out day to day tasks, the sleep pattern of the individual is also altered wherein they either fall asleep late and wake up also early. Due to the cases of depression occurring in PD patients, it led the team of scientist to also check as to why does this happen and they found out that maybe the brain or the neuronal damage caused in the Parkinson’s disease is much wider than which was though about. This linkage is said to be a direct result due to the brain damage caused due to PD. Also depression has been seen during the early period of the disease when the mobility issue is quiet limited.
Depression in PD is an invisible devil but it can be conquered if the symptoms are identified on a timely basis and treatments are started accordingly. Hence it is important to not ignore even the subtle signs of depression. The various high profile suicides occurring due to depression are few of the proofs how difficult it becomes to identify and conquer this dangerous D. The treatment method for depression should be multidimensional which can involve medications, trying to learn about the disturbance in the mood and the various strategies to cope up with it apart from the ample support received from the friends and family members.An individual can seek therapy such as cognitive or interpersonal one to identify their behavior pattern as well as to bring about improvement in the relationships as well as communications. Social support can bring about a lot of reduction in depression. Also the individual should take some time out and practice meditation to focus on breathing and at the same time regulating one’s thoughts.