depression and suicide, Dystonia and parkinson's, dystonia treatments, parkinson's disease

Role of Marijuana in the Treatment of PD & Dystonia: Weeding through the Hype:By Dr. De Leon

AS consumption of recreational marijuana has skyrocketed over the last few years reaching 20 million people in the last month alone, the use in medicine has also begun to loosen in several states. But is this a good thing? or are we setting our selves for greater disappointment and worst problems down the road? My personal opinion is a resounding Yes!  Any drug that heightens the depressive factors and magnifies the potential for memory loss, sleep problems, slows reaction time, causes dizziness, paranoia, anxiety, and hallucinations in a disease that already has the potential to do this can’t be a good thing….

In fact, there is a 1% risk of serious psychiatric side effects including suicide…this is a risk I as a d PD doctor would not be willing to take on behalf of my patients who already have tendency to get depressed and become suicidal.

However, I know many a patient that swear by the medicinal effects of this drug. So, is this a placebo effect or is there something really to this?

The American Academy of Neurology just spent an inordinate amount of time reviewing this issue. The first statement they said was “weed may be easy to find but finding credible information about its role in medicine is becoming increasingly challenging.”

Part of the challenge in identifying its efficacy in neurological disease such as PD or dystonia is the number of preparations available on the market which include synthetic which mimic the effects of whole marijuana plants or its extracts. Furthermore, the plant can be consumed in a variety of ways which then can influence its chemical composition, dosing and efficacy. For instance smoking it can have a completely different effect than if it is chewed or eaten. Another challenge in determining its potential benefit is the lack of quality control for testing, labeling, etc.  Thus, like most holistic remedies which are outside of the FDA jurisdiction have no objective consistent information about its effects on patients upon which physicians can make reliable informed decisions to treat their patients.

Yet, despite all the limitations to their review the AAN report concluded that to date the use of smoked marijuana is uncertain but has shown to worsen posture and balance. Oral cannabinoid drugs were not considered effective in the treatment of levodopa induced dyskinesias.

An open label observational study revealed improvement in pain and sleep in PD however because it was open there is potential for a lot of bias and more research is needed in this area. another study done in Israel revealed improvement in pain and tremors of PD patients however tremors in MS patients were not improved …

As far as cervical dystonia is concerned in a study partially-funded by DMRF, the results were inconclusive necessitating further studies to confirm or deny efficacy. But of concern to me is the fact that dystonia when hereditary and familial starts at a young age and instituting a drug like marijuana at a young age before brain has completely developed could be more detrimental. According to a study looking at routine marijuana use in young people, those who smoked pot routinely had smaller brains, less white matter, lower IQ’s, more psychiatric problems, even caused poor driving. We need more extensive research into the effect of prolonged use in adults as well before we as physicians can sign off on it as a routine therapy, I believe.

Nevertheless if you are still interested- A word of caution: when considering new treatments not approved by FDA or non traditional treatments ALWAYS consider the SOURCE CAREFULLY when pondering over anecdotal information especially on the internet!!! the internet can be a cesspool of unverifiable accounts of all sorts of treatments including marijuana which could potentially cause a great deal of harm if not discussed with the physician first.

But, I know that this will not deter those who are determine to find an alternative treatment to their disease – if you are thinking about it before you do, you should follow these simple guidelines for your own safety:

  • Always initiate the subject of outside non-traditional treatment interests as well as complementary treatment options.
  • Openly discuss with your physician the risks, benefits, safety issues, possible interactions, concerns you and physician might have.
  • only after an open discussion will your physician be able to make full informed decisions about your disease and make strategies to avoid unsafe conditions and interactions.

 

Sources: “Weeding through the Hype :American Academy of neurology Reviews Use of Medical Marijuana:”(Winter 2015) Dystonia Dialogue 20-21.

caregivers and chronic illness, chronic illness, depression and suicide, fall prevention in parkinsons, falls in parkinsons, parkinson's disease, parkinsons health and beauty tips

Tips for Making Life Easier for Both Caregivers & Chronically Ill Alike : By Dr. De Leon

Last month I have been dealing with my dad’s terminal illness. I have had my moments of frustration as many of you have in taking care of loved ones with chronic illnesses like PD because sometimes what we think is best for them is not what they think is best for them. So how do you decide when to step in and when to watch from the side lines (cautiously holding your breath). This question is extremely complicated of when to override their needs and desires for safety sake?

For example my dad is very frail getting extremely weak and has fallen twice but still insists in using a walker instead of wheel chair which makes me cringe. It is important not to fall into a trap as a caregiver of assuming what the person with chronic illness or PD needs or wants. It would be best to ask that person what their wishes are. An honest and frequent dialogue can go a long way in maintaining the personal dignity of the care recipient or patient as well as that of the care partner who will not come across as a tyrant but rather truly caring individual.

Learn to compromise– avoid disputes and old issues from getting in the way! During chronic illness especially as a loved one reaches end of life; this is the time to stick together! So as to make him or her feel like he/she still has some independence …so instead of forcing wheelchair in the case of my dad, I explain my concern for him of falling again.

You must Reiterate your concerns in a compassionate manner – I explained to him that we had been lucky until now not to have broken any bones thus far. But, as his bones are frail and weak any small apparently insignificant injury even a simple bump from sliding off the bed can lead to a hip fracture or wrist fracture. However, if we are to not use wheelchair, then we must have a safe plan in place. So, he was instructed to call someone first prior to getting up either from bed or sitting to alert them of his intentions of wanting to be mobile. He then was to Sit at side of bed if reclining for few minutes rather than  jumping up from laying ( although  this is more theoretically purposes just so that he remembers to take it easy because in all honesty he is not jumping anywhere when movements are extremely slow, deliberate and  laborious); these recommendations are meant to safeguard him from getting orthostatic, dizzy and avoid subsequent falls. Furthermore, I again instructed him on appropriate safe use of walker and asked for him to carry safety belt around so if he does slip it would be easier for me or my mom to catch or lift him up.

Learn to coordinate: some of us are better at this than others. If you are good at delegating and seeing the big picture- this is your calling. Nothing is more important than having a game plan! For instance, I am good at this … While my mom tends to daily needs of my dad I can step back and see what needs to be done so I can guide my mother and assist her in getting things done. For instance dealing with matters of insurance, are documents in place?  Are Wills done?  Over see funeral arrangements if dealing with end stage disease and terminal as is my dad’s condition? Are other legal documents in order?

Because, as we know when we are dealing with the task of caring for someone 24/7, we can become so overwhelmed we sometimes can’t see the trees for the forest. This is especially the case when death is imminent, our judgment can become clouded and we may become paralyzed with grief! Be the one that initiates conversation and steers it in a positive direction to get things that need done taken care of.

Learn to facilitate: emotions tend to run ramped when dealing with a chronically ill loved one.  It is hard to step outside your situation and see things objectively. This is when a friend, pastor, social worker, healthcare professional or in my case a relative that does not live there all the time comes in handy. They will ( I-you can ) provide valuable insight into the situation, give impartial advice to diffuse a stressful situation by offering prayer and even referring to other counseling services, support groups and other resources on line and to other community organizations that may be able to assist with specific needs. (i.e. Help find a sitter)

Learn to listen: this is the most difficult task of all! Some of us hear but don’t really LISTEN. Listening takes special skills understanding and putting one in the other person’s shoes. When we are in a stressful situation we all desperately need to be heard so everyone talks but No one LISTENS! Often times no words need to be uttered to have truly listened and made the person you are caring for feel special, unburdened, understood and loved. The same rules apply for the caregiver … ask them to tell you their story. This simple act can allow them an outlet to relieve their stress and open the door of communication and a way for you to offer assistance in the area of their specific need. (E.g. My dad still wants to maintain some semblance of dignity and independence/ mom wants not to have  him break a bone and hurt herself in the process if he falls). So, we came up with specific compromises on how to do things like grooming in a manner that is safe and convenient for everyone.

Lastly but not least learn to socialize: again if you are a leader or a take charge kind of person or event planner, this would be right up your ally… After all we are social beings …most of us even the shyest of us (we) thrive when we are in bonding with others either individually or as a group. Therefore, it is important to plan social outlets to get the caregivers out of their stressful situation from time to time to avoid depression, loneliness, feelings of helplessness, spiritual exhaustion which might lead to suicidal ideation but also to remind them they are individuals that have unique talents and gifts. It is important to Do the same for the patient – (to avoid same type of feelings) the social activities can be done together or separately-best if done separately from time to time.  Help organize activities for family, individual etc. Put your imagination to work. Even if it means taking them out for an unexpected ” ice cream ” run or whatever their favorite activity may be like in my dad’s case fishing (even if it’s just in a pond, bucket, or fish tank because he is now too sick to go outdoors far away from home fishing as he would like) and my mom -shopping! (Of course don’t forget to get someone to watch patient while care giver goes out).

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Dr. M. De Leon is a movement disorder specialist on sabbatical, PPAC member and research advocate for PDF (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation); Texas State Assistant Director for PAN (Parkinson’s Action Network). You can learn more about her work at http://www.facebook.com/defeatparkinsons101 you can also learn more about Parkinson’s disease at www.pdf.org or at www.wemove.org; http://www.aan.org, http://www.defeatparkinsons.blogspot.com All materials here forth are property of Defeatparkinsons. without express written consent, these materials only may be used for viewers personal & non-commercial uses which do not harm the reputation of Defeatparkinsons organization or Dr. M. De Leon provided you do not remove any copyrights. To request permission to reproduce release of any part or whole of content, please contact me at defeatparkinsons101@yahoo.com contributor http://www.assisted-living-directory.com Contributor http://www.lavozbrazoriacounty.com

alzheimers, depression and suicide, depression/suicide in neurological diseases, parkinson's disease, suicide in parkinson's

Depression in Neurological Diseases like Parkinson’s: By Dr. De Leon

You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I guarantee you, you’ll win, no matter what the outcome.” Hunter – Patch Adams ( one of the best performances by R. Williams)

In the advent of Robin Williams untimely demise, a great deal of spark and conversation has ensued around the topics of mental illness including depression anxiety and bipolar diseases well as their connection to Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.

Let me begin by saying first that although there is news of Robin Williams’s early diagnosis with PD -we do not have any details on his actual neurological condition or whether he was on treatment or not?

Furthermore, we must recall that it has been said that he battled with bipolar disease most of his adult life. Bipolar disease is more likely to result in a higher suicide risk and suicidal ideation and behavior compared to Parkinson’s. Nevertheless, we should not underestimate the severity of depression in any patient no matter the cause. And anyone suffering any type of mental illness like depression, anxiety, bipolar disease, etc. should seek immediate attention and get under the care of a specialist.

But we do need to be aware of some of the facts.

Depression is found to be more common in certain diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, migraine, and stroke.

This depression is not caused by the fact that patients are given chronic progressive mostly incurable diseases; although, certainly the notion of having these illnesses has sometimes a negative impact on an individual and can accelerate or worsen symptoms. Furthermore, some of the medications used in the treatment of these illnesses themselves can cause depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. (e.g. amantadine, L-dopa, baclofen, bromocriptine, etc. while some meds that are used to treat pain in PD like those in the seizure class-depakote, lamotrigine, carbamaepine, etc.; and of course SSRi’s-Cymbalta, Zoloft, Lexapro, Effexor, etc. can be beneficial)  in the majority of neurodegenerative diseases, the depression precedes the neurological deterioration as a harbinger of  things to common.

In the case of PD, and Alzheimer’s these can be the very first clues of something amiss especially when there has never been a prior history of mental illness, depression or family history of such problems. According to the National Institute of Mental health roughly 18 million Americans suffer from depression yearly with a 12 month period. Depression is characterized by loss of appetite, although sometimes can be the opposite, loss of interest In things that used to bring pleasure and happiness, poor sleep or too much sleep, lack of energy, suicidal thoughts, poor concentration, feelings of guilt, and low self esteem these symptoms last longer than 2 weeks and the key is that the interfere with activities of daily living.

Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression than men which already puts PD women at higher morbidity this compounding effect maybe one of the reasons are now finding out that women with PD have more negative effects (meaning non-motor symptoms) like depression as opposed to men with PD who have more tremors (positive symptoms)…roughly about 50 % to 60 % of all PD patients suffer depression at one point during their illness and about 1/3 of patients present with depression as an early symptom before diagnosis. Yet despite this knowledge, the overall risk of suicide in PD is somewhat controversial. One study, in 2001 in the U.S. including more than 144,000 people with PD found the rate of suicide in general population to be 10 times greater than in the Parkinson’s population while another study done in 2007 in Denmark found the rate of suicide among PD patients to be equal to those in the general population. Another in 2009 said PD patients although appearing to be at higher risk for depression, they truly were not at higher risk for suicide compared to general population of Denmark. Yet, one thing this study highlighted was the  increase in suicidal ideation (thoughts); this was found to be much greater among those with PD than in the general population. This last piece of information is vital to help us remember and keep in mind of the potential for a slip for those suffering from PD. The possibility of suicide is ALWAYS there and given the fact that some of the medications can trigger or worsen or even cause mood disorders, we have to be extra vigilant as patients, caregivers, and health care professionals to discuss this subject at every visit especially when there are concerns before symptoms get out of hand. There are many treatments for depression including medication. I have discovered that in PD patients, the first step is often a matter of adjusting medications if discussed early. In severe cases (ECT) electroconvulsive therapy has been instituted. Treatment of depression and other mood disorders often requires a team approach including a counselor, therapist (behavioral), psychiatrist, psychologist, and neurologist. (Don’t forget about caregivers too- they also have high rate of depression correlating with extent of care)

It is also extremely important to realize that the highest risk and higher than expected rate of suicide noted to date among PD patients has been among those that have undergone DBS particularly in those that had depression or were single. This is why is crucial if you are considering this treatment that you do not partake if you have no social support or have history of mood disorders like depression. (unless absolute last resort and are under strict supervision by a team of specialist as I described above throughout entire life-this is my opinion) Make sure that you seek opinion of an expert that has done thousands of DBS to get best outcome.

So, even though, we have lost a great entertainer and we mourn his loss, his passing although uncertain as to the cause which led him to his final acts of desperation has provided us with a stepping stone to a new beginning of discussions to remember to treat the person and NOT just the disease– no matter if its Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Multiple sclerosis, Bipolar disease or another chronic illness.

Let us remember to keep in mind  all those that suffer mental illnesses like depression …..

If you have questions regarding your Parkinson’s or think that you might have Parkinson’s and depression

… I invite you to call the National HelpLine of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation at (800) 457 6676 or email us at info@pdf.org.

Otherwise contact

www.Samaritans.org  or www.suicide.org/hotline/texas-suicide-hotlines.html or http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
http://www.Speakyourmindtexas.org

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Dr. M. De Leon is a movement disorder specialist on sabbatical, PPAC member and research advocate for PDF (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation); Texas State Assistant Director for PAN (Parkinson’s Action Network). You can learn more about her work at http://www.facebook.com/defeatparkinsons101 you can also learn more about Parkinson’s disease at www.pdf.org or at www.wemove.org; http://www.aan.org, http://www.defeatparkinsons.blogspot.com All materials here forth are property of Defeatparkinsons. without express written consent, these materials only may be used for viewers personal & non-commercial uses which do not harm the reputation of Defeatparkinsons organization or Dr. M. De Leon provided you do not remove any copyrights. To request permission to reproduce release of any part or whole of content, please contact me at defeatparkinsons101@yahoo.com contributor http://www.assisted-living-directory.com Contributor http://www.lavozbrazoriacounty.com