When the phrase “Parkinson’s disease” is mentioned the majority of people will automatically think about the physical symptoms associated with the condition such as the tremors, the loss of mobility and other motor impairments. However coping with Parkinson’s disease also take a tremendous toll on the emotional well being of the sufferer; something that many people don’t consider.
Feelings of anxiety, frustration, embarrassment at not being able to do every day things and often depression can have a huge effect on Parkinson’s patients. These psychological symptoms occur as a result of the physical symptoms and can have a very negative effect on a person. Depressive episodes are seen in an average of 50% of patients and these episodes often alternate with anxiety attacks so that the patient has the symptoms of a manic-depressive. Alternating emotional outbursts of depression and anxiety are common in around 80% of cases.
Partial memory loss can also add to the psychological stresses felt by a Parkinson’s sufferer. As the disease progresses, patients can begin to forget dates, names and faces which can be quite traumatic, especially when the sufferer knows that a person is a loved one but they can not recall their name or what relation they are to them.
However with a loving support system of friends and family and all the information that can possibly be known about Parkinson’s disease, many of the emotional symptoms of the disease can be kept under control i.e. depressive episodes and feelings of frustration. It is very helpful to a sufferer if they can join a local support group as well so that they can talk about their emotions with people who understand exactly what they are going through. Simply having someone who is experiencing the same feelings and frustrations can prove to be a very positive influence.
It is also helpful for a Parkinson’s sufferer to participate in activities that hold their interest, be they physical activities or mental activities. Having happy experiences can quickly fend off any depressive feelings and mental exercises will help to keep the brains functioning normal for longer. Any activity can be enjoyed with the support of a loved one so for example daily exercises can be made fun if they are performed to music with a partner. They can even become a bit of a competition with a reward for the winner.
For the Parkinson’s sufferer, work can be both a burden and a release. Explaining the situation to management can mean that allowances are often made so that stress levels and physical labor are kept to a minimum. People in general are very understanding when it comes to long term illness in the workplace and a good boss will help in any way they can. This means that a Parkinson’s disease sufferer can remain active and with the people they know for much of the day, thus leaving less time to sit and contemplate their condition. Research has shown that the most emotionally stable Parkinson’s disease patients are those who can make a joke out of their symptoms and who don’t let the condition get them down, under any circumstances.