Ask the Doctor/Q&A

Ask the Doctor/Q&A

How much control does a person with Parkinson’s have over his/her symptoms?

One of the key observations with movement in PD, which can be baffling for onlookers, is that automatic movements are affected. When a person with PD concentrates on their movements they are often able to make them more normal-appearing than when they allow the automatic portion of their brain to take over. Therefore, one strategy for improving movement in PD, is to perform movements correctly in a conscious way so that the automatic part of the brain can relearn how to do things. Physical and occupational therapy can be helpful in this regard.

My mother has PD as well as depression. Sometimes I also feel that she is not as cognitively sharp as she was. What can I do to help her?

It is very common for people with PD to also suffer from depression and it can be very disabling. The good news is that it can often be successfully treated. You should speak with your mother’s neurologist about treatment options for depression.

As for her cognitive difficulties, depression can cause what is known as “pseudodementia”. That is, she may appear to be having more cognitive difficulties when she is depressed. Therefore, if she is treated for depression, she may improve. PD can cause cognitive difficulty independently however it would be hard to assess for this when your mother is actively depressed.

Please  see our publications about Depression and Parkinson’s Disease and Cognitive Changes in Parkinson’s Disease for additional information.