What is depression? Depression is a mood disorder that affects how we think and feel. Depression can replace hope, joy, positivity, self confidence, and possibilities with hopelessness, sadness, insecurity, and impossibilities. Depression can ‘color our world with shades of gray'. Symptoms of depression include sadness, memory problems, fatigue, sleepiness, or insomnia. Other symptoms of depression include irritability, poor concentration, loss of enjoyment in social activities and hobbies, loss of appetite or increased appetite, decreased libido, feeling of hopelessness or guilt, excessive worrying, feeling of worthlessness or failure and even suicidal thoughts. Apathy or amotivation and anxiety can also be present.
What is the association between Parkinson’s and depression?
Many people with Parkinson’s experience depression. In fact, research studies report that up to 50% of people with Parkinson’s experience symptoms of depression. Depression can begin before the movement symptoms of Parkinson’s have become obvious otherwise termed a preclinical symptom. The cause of depression in Parkinson’s is thought to occur from biochemical changes (serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine) in brain regions that influence mood. Depression can also be caused by other circumstances and frustrations such as a reaction or response to your Parkinson’s diagnosis, life worries, social isolation, loneliness, or secondary to chronic frustrations when symptoms cause problems with everyday tasks. Depression can be present at all times, as a reaction to having a bad day or when Parkinson’s medications start to wear off just before the next dose of medicine is due.
How does depression change my life with Parkinson’s?
Depression affects you and your family’s well being in so many ways. It changes your perception of how well you are doing. For instance you may feel that your movement problems are worse than they actually are - further increasing your frustrations and anxieties. For this reason, it is so very important to recognize symptoms of depression and honestly discuss these concerns with your healthcare provider. Remember, the better your mood, the more apt you are to tend to your wellness with exercise, eat healthy, adapt to your difficulties, problem solve and socialize with people important to you.
Author: Monique Giroux, MD
Copyright 2011 Northwest Parkinson's Foundation Wellness Center