Parkinson’s disease impacts an astounding 10 million people worldwide, with another 60,000 in America alone diagnosed each year. Though we most commonly associate physical symptoms with the disease, such as rigid muscles, tremors, and poor balance, it’s important to understand the secondary symptoms as well, in order to best manage the disease. Secondary symptoms can include effects on a person’s mind, memory, and mood.

Recently, experts have reclassified Parkinson’s disease from a neurological disorder to a neuropsychiatric one, highlighting the mental health aspects that need to be addressed. The in-home care specialists at THE MEDICAL TEAM have outlined some of the more common conditions to watch for in those with Parkinson’s:

Depression: One of the most common mood changes, depression will affect as many as 50% of Parkinson’s patients at some point during the course of the disease. While typically the depression experienced is minor, it can impact the person’s quality of life and functionality. Watch for signs such as problems with sleeping, lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, feelings of guilt, self-blame, or restlessness, and reduced concentration.

Anxiety: While it’s natural to experience feelings of uncertainty with any chronic condition, those with Parkinson’s have shown abnormalities in a particular brain chemical, GABA, which is linked to increased anxiety. Red flags to watch for include an excessive level of worry, phobias, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms that are a change from the person’s typical behavior prior to their Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Increased/Decreased Emotions: To a lesser degree than clinical depression, those with Parkinson’s may be prone to developing a noticeable change in how emotions are expressed. For instance, the person may become overwhelmed and tearful when watching a sad movie, when previously he or she kept emotions in check. Conversely, the person may become apathetic.

Disinhibition: Disinhibition refers to a lack of impulse control, and can result from particular medications often prescribed for Parkinson’s, such as dopamine agonists and levodopa. This can commonly display as addiction-like behaviors, such as compulsive and excessive gambling.

If any of these changes are noted in someone with Parkinson’s disease, inform the person’s physician immediately, as treatment options are available that can help improve quality of life.

THE MEDICAL TEAM can help those with Parkinson’s disease in a variety of ways. Our fully trained and experienced care staff will also watch for changes in condition and alert the appropriate designated members of the care team, to allow for the earliest possible intervention and treatment.

Serving New Orleans, Detroit, Austin, Dallas and the metro DC area with professional, customized home health care services, contact us to learn more about how we can help those with Parkinson’s and other chronic diseases live life to the fullest.