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(StatePoint) Those familiar with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are likely aware of the disorder’s most visible symptoms, including slower movements, impaired balance, rigidity/stiffness and involuntary shaking. However, Parkinson’s, which is a neurodegenerative brain disorder, can cause a range of non-motor symptoms, which can bring about a new set of challenges for people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers.
It’s important to learn more about these non-motor symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions and mood disorders, so you can be sure to discuss them with your doctor.
More than half of all people with Parkinson’s will experience hallucinations or delusions over the course of their disease. Hallucinations can cause people to see, hear, or experience things that aren’t real. For example, people with Parkinson’s commonly report seeing groups of people or animals that in actuality are not there. As hallucinations become more frequent, people with PD may become unable to distinguish what’s real and what’s imagined and react to their hallucinations. Hallucinations can lead to increased patient and caregiver distress, and even nursing home placement.
Delusions are false beliefs not supported by evidence, and in people with Parkinson’s, delusions often have paranoid themes. For example, a person with Parkinson’s might make accusations about their spouse or someone else trying to access their life savings. Another common delusion is even a longtime spouse committing adultery.
Studies have shown that many experiencing these symptoms are not reporting them to their doctors, possibly due to embarrassment or not understanding that the symptoms are associated with PD and the majority of the discussion is focused on motor symptoms.
3. Cognitive Changes
As explained by the National Parkinson Foundation, problems with attention, inability to focus on planning, difficulties with memory and language, and personality changes characterize the cognitive changes that can take place over time with PD.
4. Sleep Disorders
A range of sleep disorders are often associated with PD. They include insomnia, restless leg syndrome, talking or moving during sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness. Sleep disorders can impact overall health and well-being.
5. Mood Disorders
Depression, anxiety and irritability can also affect those with PD. In fact, one study showed that up to 40 percent of people with Parkinson’s will experience some form of anxiety during the course of their illness.
6. Additional Non-Motor Symptoms
The non-motor symptoms of PD are numerous, ranging from vision problems to hypertension to loss of sense of smell. These symptoms can also appear before a PD diagnosis and should be noted.
More information about Parkinson’s disease and its non-motor symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions, can be found at www.parkinson.org.
While there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, there are different treatment options, as well as assistive devices, to address motor and non-motor symptoms. When people with Parkinson’s and their loved ones report the variety of symptoms that might be associated with the disease, it can help determine what treatment option is best for them.
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