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Coping with Parkinson’s Disease: Emotional Challenges

Coping with Parkinson's disease isn't easy. There are physical symptoms and emotional challenges to overcome. Get tips for coping with PD on HealthyPlace.

Coping with Parkinson’s disease is challenging for many reasons. Alongside the physical symptoms of PD and the changes your body goes through, the diagnosis of a chronic, progressive illness can take its toll emotionally. There is also a clear link between Parkinson’s disease and mental health issues like depression and anxiety – not to mention sleep problems. For all of these reasons, a reliable support system is crucial during Parkinson’s disease, but you may also wish to learn some coping strategies of your own. Here are some tips for coping with Parkinson’s disease.

Coping with Parkinson’s Disease: Why It’s So Difficult

Parkinson's disease is a progressive illness for which there is currently no cure. Although most people continue to live long and fulfilling lives with PD, it can still be hard to hear that you are not going to get better.

When you are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, your doctor will tell you what to expect regarding symptoms, progression and treatment. However, Parkinson's is often described as a "bespoke" illness because it presents differently in every patient. Some people live well for decades before their symptoms become significant, while others progress from stages 1 to 5 in a matter of months. The majority of people with PD need full-time care when they reach end-stage Parkinson's.

For many people, the signs of PD appear gradually, so you may have a while to get used to the idea of a Parkinson’s diagnosis. Others may experience sleep problems or changes in mood long before motor symptoms begin; for these people, a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease may come as a shock. Either way, this news can take its toll on your emotions, and you may be worried about how you will cope in the future.

Tips for Coping with Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

Parkinson's disease symptoms can be challenging to live with at first. Here are some tips to help you cope:

Take it one day at a time

It's best to tackle Parkinson's disease one day at a time. Although making plans for the future is a good idea as the disease progresses, there is no use worrying endlessly about the long-term effects of PD. All you have now are your current symptoms, and you can only deal with what's in front of you.

Keep a symptoms diary

Record any emotional and physical symptoms so you can give your doctor an accurate picture of your condition. Write down physical symptoms such as tremor, slowed movement or rigidity, as well as mental health changes like depression, anxiety or hallucinations. If you experience problems with memory or concentration, ask a trusted caregiver or loved one to jot things down.

Ask questions

Be an active participant in your healthcare. Write down any questions you want to ask your doctor between visits, and don't be afraid to ask for alternative medications or treatment if you don't think your current plan is working for you.

Practice acceptance

If you have just been told you have Parkinson's disease, you may find it difficult to come to terms with the diagnosis. Over time, however, you may find it helpful to work through any feelings of anger and resentment and practice acceptance. Exercises like meditation and mindfulness can relieve stress while seeing a therapist can help you work through your feelings.

“Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.” ― Michael J. Fox

How to Cope with Parkinson’s Disease at Home

You may wish to make practical arrangements to help you feel more in control of your disease. Here are some tips for coping with Parkinson's disease at home.

  • Improve your sleep health: Make sure your bedroom is set up for sleep. Remove technology devices and other stimulants and try to make your bed a calm sanctuary where you can get the rest you need. 
  • Keep a medication chart: You may have to take several different medications at a time, so keeping a chart will help you stay organized. 
  • Ask for help: Find someone you can call on for help when you need it, such as a friendly neighbor, family member or friend. 
  • Remove hazards: As your Parkinson's progresses, you may find it difficult to move around freely. You may also experience frozen or shuffling gait, which can catch you off-guard. Make sure to remove trip hazards and fall risks from the home to minimize the chance of injury and ease your anxiety.

As difficult as it may seem, many people find ways to live successful and happy lives with Parkinson's disease. It may take a while to find the right medication to control your symptoms, and it might not be the whole answer. However, there will be a route through this, and you can find new ways to make your life enjoyable and meaningful

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2020, February 9). Coping with Parkinson’s Disease: Emotional Challenges, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, March 31 from https://www.healthyplace.com/parkinsons-disease/treatment/coping-with-parkinsons-disease-emotional-challenges

Last Updated: February 18, 2020

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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