Over 80 percent of surveyed people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ suffer from depressive symptoms as part of their condition, a European-wide survey has revealed today.
In some cases, these mood symptoms can impact patients’ quality of life as much as the more recognisable movement symptoms of the condition, such as tremor.
Despite this, there seems to be a barrier between patients and their doctors when it comes to discussing depressive symptoms during consultations.
Approximately one in 500 people in the UK have Parkinson’s disease and depressive symptoms are commonly seen with the disease. Symptoms tend to appear over the age of 50, as the risk of developing PD increases with age. However, early onset is also seen and of 10,000 new cases diagnosed annually, 1 in 20 are under the age of 40.
The results from the European-wide survey, involving 500 people with mild-to-moderate PD and 500 specialist physicians (including those from the UK) were announced today in collaboration with the European Parkinson’s Disease Association (EPDA).
“This survey has confirmed what we’ve been hearing from people with PD, and the people who care for them, for some time”, commented Mary Baker, President of the EPDA. “In many cases, it’s not the symptoms that one normally associates with PD that cause the most distress. When your mood is affected, it can be very difficult to maintain a normal outlook on life. Those who are caring for people with PD often report that seeing their loved one feeling depressed is one the hardest aspects of the condition to deal with.”
There is mounting evidence that depressive symptoms are a central part PD, rather than occurring as a result of it. In fact, mood symptoms can often appear before the more commonly recognisable movement symptoms associated with PD.
The survey has revealed that although doctors do acknowledge that PD patients are likely to suffer depressive symptoms, they can often find them difficult to recognise. Across Europe, 97 percent of specialist physicians believe that the majority of their PD patients ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ experience depressive symptoms, but 49 percent believe these types of symptoms are difficult to recognise. However, PD patients may not be helping this lack of recognition, as the survey found that they often do not talk about their mood symptoms with their doctor. Around 40 percent of the PD patients, who admitted to experiencing depressive symptoms in the survey, said that they ‘only occasionally’, ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ discussed them with their doctor.
The primary reason given by doctors as to why they did not discuss depression was that they felt that patients did not rate these symptoms as being as important as other aspects of their condition. This was contrary to the importance given to depression by patients who rated it as important as movement symptoms.
Although there is still more research to be done, these early results indicate that there may be hope on the horizon for people with PD, and their carers, who are affected by the depressive symptoms of this condition. Research in this area is ongoing.
Notes to Editors
The ‘Hidden Face of Parkinson’s Disease’ survey was sponsored by an educational grant from Boehringer Ingelheim.
About Boehringer Ingelheim
The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operates globally with 143 affiliates in 47 countries and nearly 37,500 employees. Since it was founded in 1885, the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel products of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.
Source: PR Newswire