Swedish researchers found that chronic depression may later lead to Parkinson’s disease. For their study, scientists analyzed data on more than 140,000 adults who were diagnosed with depression and monitored over the course of more than 25 years.
By 2005, study participants were all on average 50 or older. By that time, doctors had monitored their illness’ evolution from 1987 to 2012. Recently, researchers compared the results with data gathered on healthy individuals that were of the same age and gender.
They learned that 1 percent of the participants that were struggling with depression eventually developed Parkinson’s disease, while only 0.4 percent of the healthy people were diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease.
According to National Parkinson’s Foundation, about 500,000 Americans are currently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, while 4 million more are affected by the illness worldwide.
However, researchers reassured the public that having depression does not automatically mean that you would develop Parkinson’s at old age. They said that the disease was “uncommon” even among depressed people.
On the other hand, the newly found link between Parkinson’s disease and depression needs further analysis because the new findings are consistent with other studies that had linked Parkinson’s disease with a cohort of other mental health conditions or personality traits.
Three years ago, the American Academy of Neurology reported that over precautious and risk-averse people boosted the chance of developing Parkinson’s.
A person affected by Parkinson’s disease has a dopamine insufficiency since many of the brain cells that produce it are damaged beyond repair.
As a result, the patient’s body experiences rigid muscles, lack of balance, tremors in hand or fingers, and slow movement. The speech may also be affected, while handwriting can become smaller and more difficult to read.
Those symptoms are usually greatly alleviated through medications that can compensate the loss of dopamine. Yet, the bill for treating the disease costs the U.S. $14 billion every year.
Swedish researchers also learned that depressed people usually develop the brain disease earlier than healthy people since study participants were 3.2 times more likely to get ill within a year since they were diagnosed with depression than people who had no chronic depressive mood.
Additionally, the more depressed a person was, the higher the likelihood of being affected by Parkinson’s disease later in their life was.
Investigators reported that people who needed to be hospitalized for depression had a threefold chance of having Parkinson’s later on. Also, the chance jumped by 40 percent if those people were hospitalized at least five times because of their severe depressive episodes.
Image Source: Project Wildman
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