How Parkinson’s Disease Can Change One’s Life

Aug 21, 2014
Tagged with: How Parkinson's Disease Can Change One's Life


Parkinson’s Disease is a neuro-degenerative disease that affects one’s motor skills at first, but can eventually lead to other mental issues as well as a side affect of this disease. Parkinson’s Disease is caused by the lack of dopamine produced by the neurons in the substantia negra section of the brain. Dopamine is a chemical responsible for relaying messages between the substantia negra section of the brain to others in order to regulate movements and other motor skills needed on a daily basis. Over time, an individual with Parkinson’s Diseases looses the ability to make smooth, coordinated movements because many of the neurons that produce dopamine are damaged, and not enough dopamine is produced by the substantia negra for normal body movements to occur.

However, for an individual with Parkinson’s Disease, it goes way beyond limited motor skills and lack of dopamine production in the brain. Parkinson’s Disease can affect every aspect of one’s life by causing other disorders to show up. One of these is the onset of depression and anxiety. Understanding one’s mental disorder and its side effects is an important part of the process in handling them appropriately. Take for example, Robin Williams, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease shortly before he died. For years, Robin Williams had been living with anxiety and depression. According to his widow, Williams had recently been diagnosed with the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. According to Williams’ widow, the pressure of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, in addition to the depression and anxiety he was already dealing with, was already too much.

However, from what we already know about Parkinson’s disease, I can’t help but wonder whether or not Williams had been living with Parkinson’s disease all this time, and the depression really stemmed from that, or did the Parkinson’s disease simply heighten his depression enough to where he was willing to commit suicide? To be honest we will never know the exact truth as to what led to Robin Williams’ tragic death, yet one thing we can all learn from this is when can Parkinson’s Disease and depression be considered separate disorders, and/or side affects from the other?

The answer in this currently lies in what we know about Parkinson’s disease, which put simply is uncertainty. Most individuals who live with Parkinson’s disease experience depression-like symptoms, enough to where either or both are often diagnosed. This is because, like Parkinson’s disease, depression is resulted from a lack of chemical communication within the brain to other parts of the body. The symptoms that are often found in both Parkinson’s disease and depression patients include: poor memory, decreased ability in thinking processes, and sleeping disorders. Furthermore, at least 50% of those diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease have experienced depression sometime while having this traumatic brain injury, while 40% will live with some sort of anxiety disorder. In fact, seeking treatment for depression has shown to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Therefore, if you know someone who is living Parkinson’s disease, or if you yourself are, please seek medical support. Parkinson’s Disease patients should be screened for depression once a year and receive regular treatment from a medical support team. Furthermore, it is important to confirm that the patient indeed has Parkinson’s disease by having his or her doctor conduct certain tests. For emotional support for yourself and your loved one living with Parkinson’s Disease, look for an online support network like TryMunity, to talk with others who are going through what you are, but also to help you learn how to cope with this issue. Remember, Parkinson’s disease is a traumatic brain injury because of the chemical affects it has on the brain, but also the physical and quality of life aspects it has on the individual as a whole. Therefore, it is important to seek proper medical assistance and emotional support to help you and your loved one cope through the challenges and changes that occur with Parkinson’s disease and/or depression.

However, with the proper medical treatment and lifestyle changes, anyone living with Parkinson’s disease or another TBI can cope and function with everyday life. This is possible by encouraging the patient to do activities that stimulate the brain. These activities can include games like sudoku, solitaire, hang man, Go Fish!, jigsaw puzzles and word games. Other activities can include daily exercise, remain socially engaged with the people around you, eating a healthy diet that promotes brain health, and make sure you get enough sleep. An online support network like TryMunity often offer suggestions of activities one can do with loved ones living with a TBI to help stimulate the brain. All in all, it is important to maintain a high quality of life and use your brain as much as possible in thinking activities to help you cope and relieve yourself as much as possible from the symptoms of a TBI like Parkinson’s disease.






Author: Shelly Duell

  • Stop Parkinson’s

    I’m glad you mentioned healthy diet. People often think it’s woo woo, but we’re learning more and more every day about how powerful some of these plant chemicals are! -Annette

  • bobl07

    Another thing people forget that diet does not mean stop eating. It is literally one of the worse things people can do. Eating healthy in moderation and exercise are the best ways to treat your body.