Next in our series of blogs on Parkinson’s disease, Movement Disorder Neurologist, Dr Paul Silberstein explains the non-motor features of Parkinson’s disease, which include anxiety, changes in speech and bladder difficulties.
Parkinson’s disease is best known for the physical manifestations of the condition which include slowness and stiffness of movement, tremor and walking difficulty. Indeed, these physical symptoms continue to form the basis for the diagnosis of the condition.
In addition to these physical symptoms, we now recognise that Parkinson’s disease can cause a variety of additional difficulties in non-motor domains. These non-motor features include anxiety, changes in mood, speech and swallowing impairment, bowel and bladder difficulties and sleep impairment. After many years of PD, some patients experience changes in their thinking or cognitive ability.
These non- motor features of Parkinson’s disease can have a major impact on wellbeing. Fortunately, many non-motor symptoms can be treated effectively with medical therapy. Some, like anxiety and sleep impairment may respond to the same treatments used for motor symptoms. Others, like mood alteration may respond to exercise, psychologic interventions or different classes of medication such as antidepressants.
Non-motor symptoms can wax and wane in their intensity through the course of PD, but often remain treatment responsive many years after the diagnosis.