The Link Between Parkinson’s Disease and Depression

When you have Parkinson’s disease, it’s not unusual to become depressed. In fact, fifty percent of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease experience clinical depression. Like the physical symptoms of involuntary tremors, both physical and mental symptoms are caused by changes in the brain chemistry.

April is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, and over the past decade, researchers have placed increasing focus on investigating how to treat mood disorders in Parkinson’s to better increase their quality of life.

Depression can have just as much of an impact on a person’s life as the physical symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Ultimately when compared to the disease’s physical symptoms, mood, depression, and anxiety often have more of a negative impact on a patient’s overall health.

Research is ongoing, but scientists at The Michael J. Fox Foundation believe that decreased levels of serotonin in the brains of those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease cause depression.

Experiencing depression could be an early indicator of Parkinson’s disease. Often, the depression begins years before any of the other Parkinson’s symptoms show up. A 2013 study found that people diagnosed with depression were 3.24 times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.

Depression can sometimes make Parkinson’s symptoms worse, so it is essential to discuss your physical and psychological symptoms with your doctor so they can prescribe the right treatment. Medication intolerance and failure to respond to antidepressants make for great candidates for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy (TMS), a drug-free, FDA approved therapy that stimulates nerve cells in small underactive regions of the brain that are thought to control mood in order to relieve symptoms of depression

Known to help treatment-resistant depression, one clinical trial found repetitive TMS on both sides of a Parkinson’s disease patient’s brain’s motor cortex actually improved their motor symptoms. Patients experienced faster, more fluid movement after r-TMS treatment.

Using TMS therapy to treat Parkinson’s disease is still being studied. If you believe you have treatment resistant depression, schedule a consultation at the TMS Neuro Institute. 323.655.3747 or book an appointment online here.