Depression Common in Parkinson's
Many Depressed Parkinson's Disease Patients Don’t Get Depression Treatment
July 11, 2007 -- Parkinson's disease and depression often go together, and
depression is often untreated in Parkinson's patients, a new study shows.
Doctors and patients may mistake depression symptoms as part of Parkinson's
disease, note the researchers.
They included Barnard Ravina, MD, MSCE, of the neurology department at New
York's University of Rochester, and Richard Camicioli, MD, of the neurology
department at Canada's University of Alberta.
"It is crucial for health care professionals to make an effort to
detect, diagnose, and properly treat depression in Parkinson patients,"
says Camicioli in a University of Alberta news release.
Parkinson's and Depression Study
The researchers followed 413 newly diagnosed Parkinson's disease patients
for nearly 15 months.
When the study began, the patients hadn't started taking Parkinson's disease
drugs, since they were still in the early stages of Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease is a brain disease that develops gradually. It affects
certain brain cells that make a chemical called dopamine, which the brain uses
to coordinate the body's movements.
As dopamine-making brain cells die, Parkinson's symptoms develop, including
tremor, difficulty walking, and problems with balance.
In the new study, Parkinson's patients completed surveys about their
depression symptoms every six months.
Overall, more than a quarter of the patients -- nearly 28% -- were depressed
during the study. Among the depressed patients, 40% of those patients didn't
get depression treatment (antidepressants or referral for further psychiatric
Depressed Parkinson's Patients
When the study started, about a quarter of the patients reported a history
of depression and almost 14% of all patients were currently depressed.
During the study, 57 patients became depressed.
Depressed patients were more likely to report having problems with daily
tasks and to start taking Parkinson's disease drugs sooner than patients who
Depressed patients also reported lower quality of life than patients who
weren't depressed. But depression didn't appear to aggravate movement problems
Typical depression cases were mild but still hampered the patients' lives.
Severely depressed patients were more likely to get depression treatment.
The results "suggest that depression, particularly mild depression, is
common early in [Parkinson's] disease and is associated with increased
disability," write the researchers.
They write that some depressed patients remained depressed despite
depression treatment and may have needed more intensive psychiatric care.
Some doctors may have attributed depression symptoms to Parkinson's disease,
the researchers also suggest.
They call for further studies on recognizing and treating depression in
Parkinson's disease patients.