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Emotional and Psychological Effects of Parkinson’s Disease

(Read in Hindi) Getting diagnosed with PD is stressful for any person (Who can diagnose PD and how). Beyond acceptance of diagnosis, there is a long journey for the PwPD and the family. The journey is full of challenges, learnings and ways of defining or arranging life around the progress of condition. This involves not just the person (PwPD) but the immediate family too.

The effect of PD on physical health has been well known and it is also discussed in our article - Symptoms of PD. The treatment of the physical effects involves medication, physiotherapy and many other methods.

Subtle or Pronounced - but Yes!

However, during this journey, the PwPD and the family can experience mental and emotional impact too. If one comes across a family member of a person who has PD, one is very likely to hear them say something simila to - “Parkinson’s has made my spouse / partner / parent / sibling different.”

The changes may be subtle or more evident, but most of them feel that the loved one has changed from who they were. As for the person himself/herself, they may also notice how they think or feel about their surroundings and themselves as compared to earlier.

Is it normal?

As PD affects the brain - and a large part of our personality is defined by our brain structure and its functioning - it is logical that brain changes would affect the personality. However, it is not just that. The ever growing physical challenges, uncertainty of future, social difficulties and financial burden - these also play a part in affecting the mental state of both the PwPD and the family.

The identification and care of these is less documented and understood than the physical symptoms like movement disorders and others. This could be due to the fact that these are not evident and may be silently happening within the mind. These could also go unnoticed or despite noticing, get labelled as ‘normal part of ageing’.

But, considering these to be related to PD and seeking professional help could impact the quality of life in some way.

What could these effects be?

Some of the common mental health problems noted by the physician and researchers are listed below, though this differs from person to person and even for the same person as PD progresses.

Anxiety - this may show up as recurrent worrying thoughts or obsessive behavior

Depression - this may show up as anger, moodiness or withdrawal

Motivation - diminished desire to go out, do any engaging activity or even carry out routine activities

Apathy - aloofness or how actively the person interacts with others

Cognitive changes - person processing any information received (through talking/watching/reading) more slowly or with less concentration span. They may even imagine what does not exist or hallucinate in late stages

Memory problems - these may even into to more serious disorders like dementia in later stages of PD

Families while describing what they observe also use terms like stubbornness, disorganised, indisciplined or other commonly used terms. We already recognize the disease to be a life-changer and part of that is also because it can change who we are.


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