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The Link Between Parkinson’s and Depression

By Melissa Hill, 8:00 am on

While Parkinson’s disease is primarily a mobility (movement) disorder, its roots in the brain mean that it is closely associated with other neurological symptoms. Experts estimate that about half of people with Parkinson’s disease also suffer from depression. This connection has been in the forefront of the media with the August 2014 suicide of actor Robin Williams, who had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. But why does this co-morbidity occur, and how it can be treated?

The cause of Parkinson’s disease is the absence of a chemical called dopamine in the brain. Dopamine helps to control movement, which explains why the disease causes mobility symptoms such as tremors, difficulty walking, and muscle stiffness and pain. However, dopamine also plays a role in regulating mood, as do other brain chemicals affected by Parkinson’s (serotonin and norepinephrine). Low levels of these chemicals are the cause of clinical depression. Because of this, depression is not only a reaction to the development of a debilitating disease but is actually caused by the disease itself.

In addition to the likelihood of depression occurring in conjunction with Parkinson’s, research shows that those who suffer from depression early in life are about three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s as they age than those who have no history of depression. If your loved one is older than age 65 and experiencing depression, talk with his or her doctor about screening for Parkinson’s. And if he or she has already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, be aware of symptoms of depression that may arise. Though the feelings of sadness and hopelessness can be frightening, they often resolve with the help of medication as well as talk therapy.

If you need assistance caring for an aging parent or loved one who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, consider help from a home caregiver. In the early stages of the disease, a part-time caregiver can be essential in assisting with household chores, cooking and light housekeeping. As the disease progresses 24/7 live-in care in Oklahoma may be more appropriate, ensuring comfort and safety around the clock. With the right support systems in place, seniors living with Parkinson’s can maintain as much of their independence and regular routines as possible.

To learn more about in-home Parkinson’s care in Oklahoma, contact Home Care Assistance today. Proudly serving communities throughout Edmond and Oklahoma City, we offer flexible hourly and live-in care plans and have a team of experienced and compassionate caregivers who are trained in how to meet the needs of seniors with Parkinson’s. Call us today at 405-285-4191 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with one of our friendly Care Managers.