Another Side Effect of Parkinson’s Disease: Psychiatric Distress Due to Dementia

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According to a new study, Parkinson’s disease may come with yet another health drawback that many people may not be aware of: dementia. The decline in cognitive function caused by this mental disorder comes as a double-whammy to some people who are already struggling with the other damaging effects of Parkinson’s such as tremors, poor balance, slow movement, and stiffness in the body.

 Parkinson’s disease, as you may already know, is a truly devastating condition. It affects both sexes and people from all ethnic, social, and geographic areas — it knows no bounds. It’s a neurological disorder that happens when cells in a certain region of the brain known as the “substantia nigra” either begin to die off or they become impaired in some way. The cells that die off are especially vital to your brain, as they create a substance known as “dopamine.”

 Dopamine, just so you know, is crucial to cognitive function because it helps the body coordinate muscle function and movement. Adding dementia into the mix is very detrimental to a Parkinson’s patient’s well-being — to say the very least. Keep in mind that Parkinson’s can also trigger some negative cognitive-related side effects of its own such as muffled speech and depression.

 According to the study, which has been published in the January issue of the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, found that people who had Parkinson’s disease and also suffered from associated dementia as well as had to deal with a broad range of both neurological and psychiatric symptoms. These included agitation, anxiety, and hallucinations. Keep in mind that these mental disorders are on top of the other symptoms already being caused by Parkinson’s disease as well.

 The study, which is out of Norway, reviewed the effects of dementia in 537 Parkinson’s patients by specifically looking at how neuropsychiatric patterns occurred in each individual. They used a method known as the 10-item Neuropsychiatric Inventory to assess how each patient was faring with the effects of dementia. The study was conducted over a span of two years, where the average age of the participants sat at 73 years. Each participant had also been living with Parkinson’s for at least 10 years and dementia for two years before entering the study.

 The findings of the study concluded that 89% of the participants experienced one symptom of dementia and 77% experienced two or more symptoms. Among the most common symptoms the participants had to endure were anxiety, depression, apathy, and hallucinations. Also, the worse the dementia and Parkinson’s were, the worse the cognitive symptoms were as well.

 If you suffer from Parkinson’s disease, speak to your doctor about the risk factors associated with developing dementia, and if you are prone to developing the condition. If so, know that catching any neurological condition early means you can find ways to offset the side effects to some degree and that there are treatment routes available to you. You don’t have to suffer in silence.