Parkinson’s Disease (PD): Psychological Effects Including Depression

Parkinson’s Disease (PD): Psychological Effects Including Depression

By Crystal Tsui

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease, in which symptoms, such as movement and depression, progressively worsen over time. This disease affects 50% more men than women around the age of 60. However, some individuals can have symptoms that begin before the age of 50. Parkinson’s disease occurs when the neurons in the substania nigra, the part of the brain that is responsible for movement, become impaired or die. These neurons produce dopamine which is involved with movement and when those neurons die, dopamine decreases and causes motor deficits.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease include:

  • Tremors (shaking) of extremities, head, and jaw
  • Stiffness of the limbs and trunk
  • Slowness of movement (bradykinesias)
  • Impaired balance and coordination, sometimes leading to falls

Some non-motor symptoms include:

  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Sleep behavior disorders
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Skin problems
  • Urinary problems
  • Low blood pressure

Individuals may develop what is called Parkinsonian gait. They have a tendency to lean forward, walk in small hurried steps, and have reduced swinging of the arms. Along with motor symptoms, depression is known to be one of the most prevalent psychological symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease. Most of the reason is due to the chemistry in the brain, decreased levels of dopamine.

There are currently no medical tests to definitively detect or diagnose Parkinson’s disease however medication trials can help diagnose PD. If the individuals’ symptoms improve with the help of medication, such as L-dopa (levodopa) or carbidopa, it is a most likely the individual has PD.

If you or a loved one notice any of these symptoms, it is best to see a healthcare professional to talk about treatment plans and options. Symptoms and quality of life can be improved with early intervention.

For more information on Parkinson’s Disease:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
1-800-352-9424 (toll-free)

Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
1-800-708-7644 (toll-free)

Parkinson’s Foundation
1-800-473-4636 (toll-free)

If you or someone you know is suffering from cognitive impairment from Parkinson’s disease, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit .



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