THE PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF PARKINSON’S DISEASE
A critically important aspect of Parkinson’s disease is the psychological impact on the victims. The behavioral symptoms include mood changes, perception issues, and slowed cognition.
Caregivers need to know and understand these additional PD symptoms to be able to effectively support the person.
There is a long list of possible signs of depression. The depression can have two sources. The first is biochemical and caused by issues with the major neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. The second is the prognosis that comes with the disease. When a person hears that PD is a progressive degenerative disease that will eventually give them an unacceptable quality of life, depression is the result.
Symptoms of clinical depression in general:
Sad mood for two weeks or more.
Anhedonia Loss of feel pleasure and disinterest in life activities.
Weight changes (usually weight loss).
Sleep changes such as trouble falling asleep or waking up and not being able to fall back to sleep easily.
Activity changes such as wringing of the hands or general restlessness.
Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or that they are a burden to those around them.
Trouble concentrating and making decisions. They frequently give up reading.
Fatigue and/or loss of energy.
Recurrent thoughts of death and suicide. They say such things as, “Life is not worth living, I would be better off dead, I wish I could die in my sleep so I will not have to face tomorrow.”
Overlapping Depression Symptoms with PD
Appetite issues (food is tasteless and/or uninteresting).
Fatigue and little energy.
Flat affect and little expression of emotion.
Social withdrawal with the excuse that the symptoms embarrass them.
Dementia (apathy, memory issues, attention problems). Please note a significant difference here. They typically do not experience guilt, worthlessness, or that they are a burden to others.
About 50% of PD victims have depression symptoms and 20% have major depression. The incidence of depression is usually not reported to the caregiver and is under treated. Less than 1% tell their professional care giver of their depression.