Senior Resources » Parkinson’s Path: Depression, with Lianna Marie

Parkinson’s Path: Depression, with Lianna Marie

Lianna Marie talks about depression as it pertains to Parkinson’s. Research today shows that it is a symptom rather a response to the illness. Up to 50% of people with Parkinson’s are suffering from clinical depression, from the chemical imbalances triggered by the disease.

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*The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors.

The following Parkinson’s path podcast is provided by Lianna Marie, with All About Parkinson’s and Answers for Elders Radio. – And welcome everyone to Answers for Elders Radio. And we are here with Lianna Marie, are wonderful expert on Parkinson’s and you know, I so appreciated our last segment when we talked about happiness, because it is important. But now we’re going to kind of tone it down and Lianna, I wanted you to talk about depression because it’s a real thing. Sadly, it is a real thing and it definitely can be involved in, you know, whenever there’s a serious diagnosis. But again, I guess my question for you, Lianna, is how do we determine is it a symptom of Parkinson’s? Can Depression be or is it just an you know, a side effect? Right. Well, thanks, thanks for having me. And Yeah, this is a big, big topic and it certainly is something that a lot of people bring up when it comes to Parkinson’s, and that’s been one of the biggest questions. Is Is, like you said, is it something that happens with Parkinson’s or is it something that happens as a result of Parkinson’s. And in fact, initially we doctors researchers were thinking, well, they weren’t sure, Um, a hundred percent. And thankfully a lot of research has been put into the last ten years, even even even closer to five years, as we’ve made huge discoveries. In fact, they’re finding out it is officially a symptom, it’s a it’s it’s not a reaction to the illness as much as it is a part of the underlying illness. So interesting, although it’s it makes sense that if you got Parkinson’s you would be sad. You know people go through that, but that’s a big difference between there’s a big difference between sad from your initial diagnosis to being clinically depressed. Right. Yeah, and so what they’re finding is like up to fifty percent, maybe even more, are our people with Parkinson’s are being diagnosis clinically depressed, and that is attributed to many reasons, but mostly the chemical imbalance and set that’s happening in your brain as a result of the disease. Yeah, interesting, yeah, and it’s and so. And then one of the things that they’ve been looking at is does depression look the same in someone with Parkinson’s as it does just someone who’s got, who’s been diagnosed clinical depression, and the answer is yes and no. Very similar things like if you were clinically depressed, you would notice, I don’t concentration problems, your mood, low mood, fatigue, you lose your appetite, those kind of things, decrease sexual interest. These are things that are common, that that you would see in someone who’s clinically depressed and also with someone who’s got Parkinson’s. These are very common. One of the things, though, they say you might not see is in someone with Parkinson’s is it might not be all the time, every day. They might come in and out of this depression, whereas someone is that due to the stimulus outside or is that chemically? Yeah, and I think, and again not being a doctor, but this ongoing research is saying because because of the chemical imbalance, it could be going with your disease. So let’s say, you know, related to the timing of your medications or stress factors, etc. That can make you kind of come in and out of this depression. But it certainly is by far. It’s the number one. Now they’re saying it’s the number one symptom. Depression is a number one symptom and Parkinson’s that’s negatively affecting quality of life more so than motor symptoms. Wow, yeah, so, yeah, so, now now the big pushes to let’s learn more about this major symptom that we have been talking about, and it’s a as you know, there’s a lot of stigma surrounding talking about depression, which is why I really wanted to talk about this in the first place. Well, you know, you bring up a really valid point, because any kind of disease that would affect the brain. Certainly, I just now. This is me being a not a doctor or anything, but it’s just a rationale you would. It’s makes sense that if you’re off chemically in your brain, that depression could certainly be an issue. Right. So, any kind of disease. Yeah, so the chemical these particular chemical imbalance that of so the dopamine that’s lost in your in your brain as a result of Parkinson’s, not only does it affect your motor systems, it affects your mood, and so that’s that’s something that they’re learning and well, we know that. We knew that before. We just didn’t realize how much it was affecting in terms of a full on symptom of being depression. And and this is the thing because in this way again I want to talk about it because it’s so serious in that it’s so sad really that people are literally losing their lives to to depression. We know we’ve talked about that and when we have mental health awareness month and suicide prevention, and that’s separate to Parkinson’s. But imagine you have this chemical imbalance and you didn’t even know about it and you weren’t aware that this is a symptom that that you could possibly have with Parkinson’s. So you’re not even identifying it with your self and then you get to this space where you think there’s no way out and then, tragically, you could take your own life. And and again, this where I was just reading about Robin Williams the other day and, UN sadly, we knew that he had taken his life and a lot of people weren’t didn’t weren’t aware that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. I think that more and more people are becoming aware that he was actually diagnosed with Parkinson’s only a few months before he passed away and then later they actually, when they did the autopsy, realized he had Lewy body dementia, but there were chemical imbalances and reasons why he was experiencing he was having paranoia and anxiety, major insomnia. He had symptoms that were presenting like Parkinson’s, like he had some problems caused to patient and losing his sense of smell. There’s lots of things that were presenting as Parkinson so that’s why he was initially diagnosed that way. And I have read that there is a lot of similarities between Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s. Yeah, and sometimes is it like there are related in some yeah, and so what we talked about Parkinson look alikes, and that’s one of the look likes, even though it ends up not being and it often depends on which symptom presents first. And I guess in Robin Williams’ case the doctors that was Parkinson’s because he did have these these things are presenting that looked like Parkinson’s. Awesome, and we are talking again to Lianna Marie, who is the author of everything you need to know about Parkinson’s and you are amazing. You’ve got new books coming out and all kinds of stuff. So, Lianna, I’m so glad you’re here to talk about this subject. It’s such an important, important, important thing to talk about, because I think a lot of people aren’t. They don’t want to talk about it, you know. They, like you said, it’s the depression thing, is like something that you don’t want to admit to, right, and it’s you know, it’s funny is that? It’s not funny but interesting to me that people will say, you know, you know, you wouldn’t say I’m going to get rid of my tremor by being positive, or you don’t. We’re going to take some medication. I help you with that tremor. But somehow there’s this well, you know, you’re just you, just feeling low. Just feel better. It’s okay, you can do better. It’s just your mine, mind over matter, right. And unfortunately that’s not the case. And if you’re clinically depressed, you need you need physical treatment. You need whether it’s psychotherapy, counseling, a combination of that and possibly medications. Right. And one of the key things that actually, if you have parkinsons, you may already know about this, that a lot of the antidepressants that are prescribed, though there’s a warning that says, Hey, be careful, these can counteract, contradict with your Parkinson medications. So people have been afraid take antidepressants because of fear of to side of it. Yeah, so so, but now, fortunately, that’s actually becoming less and less of a problem. And again you have to talk to your doctor specifically. But the key is that you acknowledge that you have it in the first place and, as a caregiver, that you’re looking for signs for that in your loved one, if your loved one has Parkinson’s, that you’re looking for those signs. That that and early signs, I would imagine. Yeah, so, like you’re just looking for things like, say, your loved one normally was really fond of going outside and doing fun things and now all of a sudden they’re not looking forward to going outside anymore or they generally are just in a lower mood than you would then you would expect them to be things like that. They’re they’re that you may want to pay attention to. You know, they’re no longer interested in going and hanging out with friends or that kind of thing. So those are the things that you want to if you’re a caregiver, take notice of and be a part of their life in terms of going to the doctor with them and listening right, you know, just, you know, staying connected with them, offering some things that I’ve found. Offering to go exercise with them. Like know a lot of people don’t like to exercise, let alone when you’re feeling depress. It’s the last thing you want to do. So offer to go for the walk with them, or offer to just give them options, the more options and, you know, again, to to acknowledge that it’s okay, it’s not their fault. This is part of the disease. Like if you say listen, that term is not part of you, not your fault. So the way you feel is also not your fault. That’s the disease. Well, and I also understand too that, you know, is somebody’s depressed, they’re going to lash out at you and they’re going to hurt the person that they love the most. You know, and sometimes it’s it’s hard to not take things personally, but you can’t take things personally, and I think you know, that’s the part. I think that a caregiver doing their self care. That’s a whole other side of it that we can talked about later, but it’s really, you know, when you’re taking care of a loved one that has depression in any form, it’s to keep that you know, mantra available that not only you’re looking for those signs, that you can catch them early, but also to don’t take it personal. Right, exactly for you to understand, and this is a again, huge reason why we got to keep talking about depression and Parkinson’s, so that people are aware that even even is part of this disease, so that people go, oh yeah, because everybody knows a tremor, everybody knows the shake and make used to call the shaken bake mom. My mom used to shake so much. And but we you know, but did we ever talk about well, that’s why she’s so sad. Well, of course, he said. We just kept saying. Well, she said, because she got to press it, she got she can no longer walk or she can no longer do this. That’s why she’s said, that’s why she’s depressed. And yes, that’s part of it, like I said before, but in fact there’s also a major chemical imbalance. It’s challenging her, fighting against her to feel good. You know, that’s amazing. Yeah, so anyway, so that’s that’s really what I wanted to talk about mostly is just to be aware, for care you used to be aware and for caregivers to also be attentive to their own depression. That can write, can happen, and so, because that’s a told, it’s another topic what we can talk about. But again, if you are not self taking your care of yourself, we know you can’t take care of anybody else. So that’s be aware that that can happen and and it can happen quickly if you’re not paying attention. Absolutely know what. They wake up and absolute well, I’m depressed too. Yeah, so everyone, take care of yourself, take care of your loved one and be a good watchdog as far as those depressions. And Lianna, I’m looking forward to the next segment with you. – Thank you. – The preceding Parkinson’s path podcast is provided by Lianna Marie, with All About Parkinson’s and Answers for Elders Radio. To learn more about Lianna’s story, her books, the Parkinson’s Wall of Honor and more, go to


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Originally published June 01, 2019

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