Doctors May Be Missing Depression in Parkinson's Patients: Study

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Doctors may be missing depression in early stage Parkinson’s patients, according to a study out Friday, a day after Robin Williams' wife revealed that he was in early stages of the disease when he ended his life.

Approximately two-thirds of patients who screened positive for depression during their first two years with the disease had not received therapy to combat their mood symptoms, according to the study in Neurology.

“The visits for most (Parkinson's) patients are focused on their motor symptoms, not psychiatric symptoms, so that probably helps explain under recognition and under-treatment of depression,” said study co-author Dr. Daniel Weintraub, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

In Weintraub’s study, nearly 14 percent of Parkinson’s patients screened positive for depression, versus 6.6 percent of controls who did not have the disease. By the two year follow-up, nearly 19 percent of Parkinson’s patients were clinically depressed, while the numbers had decreased to just over 2 percent among the control group.


-Linda Carroll