Depression and Parkinson’s

We know that depression can have a profound effect on our overall health, but a new study has found it is associated with a much greater rate of Parkinson’s disease in particular.

The Swedish study, conducted at the Umea University, found that the rate of Parkinson’s disease nearly tripled among people with depression.

That is not to say those living with depression are very likely to develop Parkinson’s.  However, those with more severe and recurrent depression were found to be at greater risk than those without depressive symptoms.

The study, while correlating depression with Parkinson’s, is not clear on which comes first.  Researchers have yet to discover if depression damages the brain, making it more susceptible to Parkinson’s or if depression is actually an early symptom of the neurological disease.

As the aging population swells with the retiring of the baby boomer generation, depression among seniors, especially those living with chronic illness, is becoming a greater concern among health care providers.

According to the Canadian Psychological Association, depression increases the risk of death in older adults by two or three times.   It is the most important factor associated with the risk of suicide among senior citizens and yet it is often untreated because so many of the symptoms such as fatigue, lack of energy and sleep or memory problems are associated with normal aging.

For more information and resources to combat depression in older adults, visit the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health at .

Symptoms of Depression:

  • Persistently low spirits
  • Low energy
  • More aches and pains
  • Loss of interest in things that used to give pleasure
  • Can be triggered by stressful event
  • Sleep changes
  • Appetite changes
  • Anxiety

Depression is not a natural part of older age, symptoms can be treated.  Seek professional help if you or a loved-one feels sad, hopeless or has lost interest in once-enjoyed pastimes for more than a few of weeks.