Parkinson's-Related Depression Frequently Untreated

Pharmacy Times, March 2015 Central Nervous System, Volume 81, Issue 3

While depression is among the most predominant nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson's disease, a recent study has concluded that it often goes untreated in many Parkinson's patients.

While depression is among the most predominant nonmotor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, a recent study has concluded that it often goes untreated in many Parkinson’s patients.

The study, published online July 17, 2014, in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease, analyzed the medical records of more than 7000 Parkinson’s patients, almost a quarter of whom reported symptoms consistent with depression. The researchers found that one-third of patients with high levels of depressive symptoms were prescribed antidepressants prior to the study, with even fewer patients receiving counseling from social workers or mental health professionals.

The researchers also discovered that of the two-thirds of Parkinson’s patients who were not treated for their depressive symptoms at the start of the study, fewer than 10% of them received mental health services or prescriptions for antidepressants during a year of observation.

“Physicians must be more vigilant about screening patients for depression as part of a routine assessment of Parkinson’s disease, and the effectiveness of different treatments for depression in this population need to be assessed,” said lead author Danny Bega, MD, in a press release.

The results of the study indicated better physician recognition of depression in Parkinson’s patients than what had been previously reported, with physicians most likely to identify and treat the symptom in the most severely depressed patients. The study authors noted, however, that the study patients were treated at National Parkinson’s Foundation “Centers of Excellence,” suggesting that the symptom may not be as wellrecognized in the general population of Parkinson’s patients.