What is Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis
Understanding a Very Common and Troubling Disorder, Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis
Over one million Americans live with Parkinson’s disease, which is a progressive movement disorder with well recognized symptoms often including tremors, rigidity and slowness of movement. However, what surprises many patients and their family is that over half of patients will also develop troubling non-motor symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis
What is Parkinson’s disease Psychosis?
Parkinson’s disease psychosis is characterized primarily by hallucinations, often visual but possibly also occurring when a person hears or senses something that isn’t really there, as well as delusions. A delusion is a belief or impression that is maintained by the person experiencing it, despite the belief being contradicted by what is generally accepted as true. These symptoms are challenging for the patients who experience the symptoms as well as for their caregivers.
Sadly, very few Parkinson’s patients (10-20%) actually report Parkinson’s disease psychosis symptoms to their doctor. This may be due to fear or embarrassment. In other cases, the condition goes undiagnosed because patients and their caregivers may not realize that psychotic symptoms are actually associated with Parkinson’s disease. When symptoms go unreported, physicians then have an incomplete understanding of how the disease is affecting his or her patient, which in turn leads lack of treatment.
It isn’t clear why Parkinson’s disease psychosis develops. Sometimes, psychosis is triggered by infections, typically urinary tract or upper respiratory infection or pneumonia, and certain medications. However, there is also some evidence that psychosis might be a spontaneously occurring complication as the brain disease progresses.
You Are Not Alone
If you are caring for someone with Parkinson’s disease Psychosis, you and your loved one are not alone. Open dialogue with a physician can help in developing an effective management plan. There are also Parkinson’s disease support groups across the country who can provide education and caregiver respite.
Notably, the only FDA-approved treatment for Parkinson’s disease psychosis was just approved April 29, 2016. Published data report that this new medication reduces hallucinations and delusions without worsening of motor symptoms, which is important when managing Parkinson’s disease patients.
For more information about caring for someone with advanced Parkinson’s disease, visit the CareMAP online resource, created by the National Parkinson Foundation at caremap.parkinson.org.
By: Dr. David Kreitzman, M.D., Director, Parkinson’s Disease & Movement Disorders Center of Long Island Director, Parkinson’s Disease Specialty Care Center, St. Charles Hospital
Understanding Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis
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