Depression and Parkinson’s Disease
Our country is in a behavioral health crisis and our seniors aren’t immune to it. Those aged 65 years and older are vulnerable to depression as their activities slow down and they are prone to the effects of age-related conditions. People with Parkinson’s Disease have a depression occurrence rate of 50% according to the Parkinson’s Foundation and 40% experience anxiety.
What are signs of depression?
Depression is often characterized by at least two weeks of a person experiencing a depressed mood or loss of interest (or pleasure) in daily activities and is typically accompanied by challenges related to sleep, eating, motivation, concentration, or self-esteem.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) causes changes to the brain and people with Parkinson’s Disease may experience grief while navigating their disease. Specifically, PD causes alterations in areas of the brain that produce dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin — chemicals that are involved in regulating mood, energy, motivation, appetite and sleep according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.
How can you help a person with depression?
1. Seek medical attention.
It may be challenging to recognize the difference between normal symptoms of PD and depression. Sleeping issues and feeling lethargic are all associated with PD. This is why it is helpful to contact your physician if you feel increased anxiety, behavioral changes and not feeling like yourself. The good news is that medications with supportive therapy and exercise can positively impact depression.
2. Alleviating any sleep issues.
Irregular or insufficient sleep can exacerbate depression. It is reported that 2 out of 3 people with PD struggle with sleep due pain, changes in brain with PD (hallucinations, vivid dreams, nightmares), medications wearing off, having to use restroom at night. Seeking advice from your physician can help find the cause of the sleep issues and may result in improving mood and anxiety.
3. Encouraging social interaction.
It is helpful to plan social activities such as group exercise classes, attending support groups and maintaining as much of a normal routine each day. Sunlight is very helpful to tell your body it is time to stay awake. Capital Area Parkinson’s Society (CAPS) has many support groups each month both online and in person.
4. Stressing the importance of physical activity
Moving each day can have an extremely positive effect on both physical and mental health for someone with PD. Even the simplest exercises such as walking, boxing or yoga are great for releasing mood-boosting endorphins and strengthening your core.
Along with staying physically active, eating a healthy diet is also important for mental stability.
If you’ve tried supporting your loved one on your own, discuss options for counseling, therapy, or even safe and helpful medications with their physician to help balance their moods and mental health.
Owner & Administrator, Blue Water Homecare
Vice President, CAPS
CAPS is proud to support the Parkinson's foundation and their upcoming Parkinson's Revolution event!
Parkinson’s Revolution is an indoor cycling experience happening virtually and in person across the nation on June 11, 2022. It combines passion, determination and community to generate awareness and advance our mission toward a cure. Welcoming riders of all abilities, Parkinson's Revolution encourages participants to work up a sweat and generate funds to make lives better for people living with PD.
Find more information and register here.
Like people with other chronic diseases, people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) often struggle with mental health difficulties. While the illness is known to impair many aspects of movement, research from the Parkinson's Outcomes Project has found that two non- motor symptoms — depression and anxiety — play a key role in the disease as well and its effect on people’s quality of life.
Learn more about depression and anxiety and ways to help. Parkinson's Foundation.
Sensory overload: A Mount of Vesuvius of anxiety from Parkinson's and hunger, knowing your triggers, managing your emotions to learning to let go of control.
Read more on sensory overload and ways to overcome it.
Women & Men’s Care Partner Group
Meets on the 1st Wednesday of each month at 11:00am
People with Parkinson’s Group
Meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month at 3:00pm