ó People with depression are at significantly greater risk
for Parkinsonís disease than the general population, and
those with severe depression are especially vulnerable,
according to an article published online recently by
Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
reviewed data on more than 560,000 people in Sweden and
determined that those with depression developed Parkinsonís
at a rate nearly three times that of the other study
participants. The more severe the depression, as measured by
hospitalizations and other types of treatment, the higher the
risk of Parkinsonís.
authors said the findings suggest that depression is a warning
sign or early phase of Parkinsonís, a nervous system
disorder characterized by tremors, slurred speech, stiffness,
an unusual gait and other symptoms. The findings come less
than a year after the suicide of Robin Williams, who had
battled depression and was in the early stages of Parkinsonís
at the time of his death.
Schramke, a clinical psychologist at Allegheny General
Hospital who was not involved in the study, said the research
underscores previously known links between psychiatric and
are the kinds of things I tell the residents and medical
students," said Schramke, the hospitalís director of
behavioral neurology. When a patient has depression or
symptoms of depression, she said, there could be other
brain-related problems ó Parkinsonís perhaps but also
Alzheimerís, epilepsy or multiple sclerosis ó involved.
possibility of a second disorder is particularly strong when a
personís first bout of depression comes later in life, she
studyís findings did not surprise Audrey Daniels, a
psychiatric nurse practitioner with Milestone Centers Inc.,
which provides services to people with mental-health disorders
and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
own father had a form of Parkinsonís disease and suffered
from depression I would say about 10 years prior to our being
clear about exactly what was going on with him," she
said, citing the need to treat both disorders for maximum
improvement of either one.
there are no treatments to prevent or cure Parkinsonís. But
if preventive measures one day are developed, Schramke said,
the Swedish study identifies the type of patient who might be
targeted for intervention.
the findings arenít entirely novel, the study advanced the
link between depression and Parkinsonís in a powerful way,
said Alessandro Di Rocco, professor of neurology and chief of
the Division of Movement Disorders at New York University
School of Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center.
the large number of participants and long period over which
participants were tracked ó as long as 26 years ó provided
strong support for the findings.
the study highlighted the complex interplay between the
disorders and the need to view Parkinsonís disease as having
a continuum of symptoms.