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Parkinson's Disease: A Guide to Mind and Mood

How Parkinson's can change a person's mood, thinking, and behavior

By , Senior contributing editor
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Quick summary

Some of the most profound consequences of Parkinson's disease may result not from motor symptoms, but from psychiatric and behavioral difficulties. These problems often go unrecognized and untreated. Here's what to watch for.

Changes in mood, thinking, and behavior

Many family caregivers don't realize that some of the most stressful challenges of Parkinson's can come from changes in a patient's mood, thinking, and behavior. For instance, depression, dementia, and drug-induced psychosis are potentially crippling conditions that often accompany Parkinson's. Yet doctors and researchers haven't paid much attention to such troubles.

"If the patients do mention it" -- and, typically, they don't -- "it kind of gets shoved to the side by the issues that are more interesting to the doctor rather than to the patient," says neurologist Joseph Friedman, director of the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center at NeuroHealth in Warwick, Rhode Island, and author of Making the Connection Between Brain and Behavior: Coping with Parkinson's Disease.

Not every Parkinson's patient experiences the problems listed below, but if you notice any of them in the person you're caring for, tell his neurologist or nurse. Some of the difficulties can be relieved by adjusting Parkinson's drug dosages or giving other standard treatments. Be sure to ask about potential side effects, some of which may worsen certain Parkinson's symptoms.