Depression is a debilitating disorder that has been identified as a factor in other disorders and diseases, like cancer and stroke, and is now being linked to Parkinson’s Disease.
When the mind, body, and soul are not in alignment, operating together, the cause is dis-ease. New study results are confirming the link and even saying that depression triples a person’s risk of the progression of Parkinson’s.
What is Depression?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), this mental illness is said to affect almost 7% of all adults in the United States each year, and women are 70% more likely to experience the symptoms of depression than men.
Major depressive disorder, or major depression, is the most severe form of depression and is characterized by an impairment in everyday functioning, depressed mood, disinterest in activities that used to bring joy, diminished feelings of pleasure, sleep pattern disturbances, greatly decreased or increased appetite, an inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, and possible suicidal thoughts. To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, these symptoms need to be occurring most of the day, every day, for at least one week (i.e. seven consecutive days.)
Dysthymic disorder, or dysthymia, is a milder form of depression that has persisted for two or more years, but has not interfered with functioning to the point of disability. People diagnosed with dysthymia can have major depressive episodes, but the symptoms are not present every day.
Minor depression is the mildest form of depression, but it can progress into major depressive disorder is left untreated. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and Postpartum Depression are two forms of minor depressive disorder that can be acutely treated to prevent the growth to major depression.
What is Parkinson’s Disease?
There are five stages to this illness that starts when nerve cells in the brain that produce dopamine are disrupted. When symptoms begin, the disease can progress through the five stages. Treatment is available, but the disorder is not currently curable.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, as reported by www.WedMd.com, are:
- Loss of balance
- Forward or backward lean that can cause falls
- Stooped posture (when the head is bowed and the shoulders are slumped)
- Head shaking
- Voice and speech changes (voice will become softer with poor enunciation)
- Loss of motor skills
- Memory problems
- Changes in handwriting (smaller writing)
- Feelings of fear and anxiety
- Skin problems, such as dandruff
- Difficulty swallowing and chewing
- Sleep disturbances
- Urinary problems
- Sexual dysfunction
As you can see, depression is a symptom of Parkinson’s. The two disorders often overlap.
The Study That Links Depression and Parkinson’s Disease:
By following the medical and mental health of 4,634 people diagnosed with depression and 18,544 people who were depression-free (the control group), researchers were able to evaluate people for 10 years. At the conclusion of the study, 66 of the people who were diagnosed with depression, so 1.42% of the 4,634, and 97 of those without depression, 0.52% of the 18,544, were diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease during the 10-year period.
Conclusion: People with depression are 3.24 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s than those who have not suffered from the symptoms of depression.
Implications of the Study Results
The study results are published in the online issue of the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology called Neurology®.
The study’s author, Albert C. Yang, M.D., Ph.D., commented on the results by saying, “Our study suggests that depression may also be an independent risk factor for Parkinson’s Disease. Many questions remain, including whether depression is an early symptom of Parkinson’s disease rather than an independent risk factor for the disease. Our study also found that depression and older age and having difficult-to-treat depression were significant risk factors as well.”
The need for further study of the link is very real, but the study’s implications can be helpful in preventing and treating depression.
Current Treatment for Depression
When properly assessed and diagnosed with one form of depression, a combination of psychotherapy and medication catered specifically to you can be effective in treating depression. An individualized treatment plan is the first step toward addressing the symptoms of depression, and any other illness or disorder you may also be experiencing. For example, depression often co-occurs with drug and alcohol abuse, an eating disorder, or another mental illness. Dual diagnosis treatment tackles the presence of the symptoms of two or more disorders.
To find out what treatment is best for you, or for someone you know, contact the team at Sovereign Health Group. Treating depression now can prevent the development of Parkinson’s Disease later in life.
Blog Post By: Jared Friedman