New research carried out by scientists in the United States has revealed that depression and anxiety are twice as common in people who have recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease compared with the general population.
The work published by the University of Pennsylvania in the academic journal Neurology, showed that depression increases in frequency and severity in Parkinson’s patients and discovered that it was often not properly diagnosed and sometimes left untreated.
The study followed 423 newly-diagnosed Parkinson’s patients over a two year period and tracked their mental health.
From the outset of the study, 14 per cent of the group had experienced depression, compared to just 6.6 per cent of healthy volunteers.
Of those who participated 16 per cent started out on anti-depressant medication, but this figure rose significantly to 25 per cent by the end of the study.
Previous research suggests that the disease’s impact on the brain can be a trigger for depression.
Speaking with the BBC, Professor David Burn, from the University of Newcastle, who is funded by Parkinson’s UK, said: “It is well-recognised that people do get depression and anxiety up to 10 years before they develop Parkinson’s disease.
“People recognise the tremor and movement problems of Parkinson’s, but the disease actually starts in the brain, affecting certain chemicals.
“This can cause sleep problems initially and can also lead to minor forms of depression.”
Parkinson’s UK is advising any patients with concerns to speak to their doctor, caregiver or consultant if they are worried about depression or anxiety.
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