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Depression Before Parkinson's Disease?

Study Suggests That Depression May Precede Parkinson's Diagnosis
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

April 27, 2007 -- Depression may sometimes precede Parkinson's disease, a new study shows.

The researchers -- who included Miguel Hernan, MD, DrPH, of the Harvard School of Public Health -- used a medical database of more than 3 million people in the U.K.

The researchers compared data on 1,052 Parkinson's disease patients to more than 6,600 people of similar backgrounds who didn't have Parkinson's disease.

Prescription data show that people currently taking antidepressants were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson's disease as people who had never used antidepressants.

The pattern applied to people taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants. Past use of antidepressants wasn't linked to Parkinson's disease, the study shows.

However, "this should not be interpreted as evidence that antidepressants cause Parkinson's disease," Hernan says in an American Academy of Neurology news release.

The findings were limited to antidepressant use in the year before Parkinson's diagnosis, "suggesting that depression can be an early symptom" of Parkinson's disease, write the researchers.

The study doesn't prove that depression causes Parkinson's disease. It also doesn't mean that depression always leads to Parkinson's disease.

The study will be presented in Boston on May 1 at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting.

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