-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Depression is the most
important determinant of the health status of people with
Parkinson's disease, according to early findings from a large study
of Parkinson's patients.
Parkinson's is a brain disease that affects muscle and causes
tremors, muscle rigidity and slowed movement. It's believed that
about half of Parkinson's patients experience some form of
depression at some point, and research suggests that depression and
anxiety are more common in Parkinson's patients than in patients
with other chronic diseases.
The early findings from the Parkinson's Outcomes Project were
released Wednesday by the National Parkinson Foundation and suggest
that the impact of depression on the health status of Parkinson's
patients is almost twice that of the movement problems associated
with the disease.
The researchers also noted that depression can be difficult to
diagnose in Parkinson's patients because many common disease
symptoms, such as fatigue and masked facial expressions, may hide
mood changes. Studies show that it is common for depression to be
undiagnosed or under-treated in Parkinson's patients.
Based on these new findings, the National Parkinson Foundation
recommends that doctors screen Parkinson's patients for depression
at least once a year, and that patients discuss any mood changes
with a health care professional.
When going to doctors' appointments, a patient should be
accompanied by a family member who can provide information about
any mood changes they've noticed in the patient.
The Parkinson's Outcomes Project began in 2009 and includes more
than 5,500 Parkinson's patients in the United States and three
"Routine aspects of care are rarely studied, so this research is invaluable in proving that there are vast disparities in Parkinson's treatment and showing which aspects of care really work," Dr. Matthew Stern, of the University of Pennsylvania, who is also president-elect of the Movement Disorder Society, said in the news release.
"For example, this latest data demonstrates how important it is to quality care to refer patients for multi-faceted treatment of depression," he added.
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