When you have Parkinson’s disease, it’s not unusual to get some mental health problems along with it, like depression. If this happens to you, there are plenty of ways to treat it, so make sure you let your doctor know how you feel.
Parkinson’s and Depression
Depression is a mood disorder caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain. It’s common in people with Parkinson’s disease. Often, the depression begins years before any of the other Parkinson’s symptoms show up.
What Are the Signs of Depression?
Depression can sometimes make your Parkinson’s symptoms worse. Get in touch with your doctor if you notice any of these things happening to you for longer than 2 weeks at a time.
- You have a depressed mood.
- You can’t find pleasure in things that you once enjoyed.
- You have trouble getting to sleep or you sleep too much.
- Your appetite changes.
- You feel tired or your energy levels change.
- It’s hard to concentrate.
- You have low self-esteem.
- You have thoughts of death.
How Do You Treat Depression in Parkinson’s Disease?
Your depression can be treated with psychological therapy and medication. People seem to do better when they get both types of treatment.
There are many antidepressant medications, and each has pros and cons. Which one your doctor suggests depends on your overall condition and specific needs.
Most people should not take amoxapine (Asendin) because it could temporarily make Parkinson’s symptoms worse.
Psychological therapy can help you rebuild your sense of self-worth. It also can help you keep up good relationships with your caregivers and family members.
Other Mental Health Problems Linked to Parkinson’s
Some mental health issues are side effects of Parkinson’s treatments, like hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions.
A hallucination happens when you think something is present when it isn’t. For example, you may hear a voice but no one is there. An example of paranoia is when you think someone is following you when they are not. A delusion is when you are convinced something is true, despite clear evidence that proves it’s not.
How Are These Mental Health Problems Treated?
Your doctor will first want to check if your hallucinations, delusions, or paranoia are caused by other medical conditions. They’ll check for imbalances in chemicals in your blood that help send nerve signals.
They may also check to see how well your kidney, liver, or lungs are working, as well as test for certain infections. All of these issues could cause mental health problems.
Other medications that you may be using, including over-the-counter drugs, could also play a role in your mental health. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including herbs and supplements.
Often the medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease can cause mental health problems. Your doctor may suggest you switch to a different drug or change your dose. If changing your Parkinson’s medication causes your Parkinson’s symptoms to get worse, your doctor may recommend you stick with it but take antipsychotic drugs at the same time.
There’s a chance that an antipsychotic medicine you take is making your Parkinson’s worse. If that happens, you have alternatives. The medication pimavanserin (Nuplazid) was approved by the FDA to specifically treat psychosis that goes along with Parkinson’s disease. Other drugs, such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel), and clozapine (Clorazil) can control hallucinations at low doses without making your Parkinson’s symptoms worse.
Clozapine is the least likely to intensify Parkinson’s symptoms, but there’s a small chance that your levels of infection-fighting white blood cells will drop. If you take this medicine, your doctor will likely do frequent blood tests to keep tabs on your white blood cell count.
If you feel depressed or notice any mental health problems, talk to your doctor right away. There’s likely a remedy that will make you feel better.