If you have Parkinson's disease (PD), then you know that PD influences a host of things that far transcend difficulties with movement like rigidity, tremors or balance. Instead, you find yourself trying to learn to cope with excessive fatigue, depression and apathy -- that feeling of just not being able to get motivated enough to act. Friends and family look back to events leading up to your PD and say that your personality changed and that you became more rigid or cautious and more withdrawn long before your motor symptoms manifested. You put it down to all those strange sleep problems you had then and the ones you are having now. After you start your dopamine medications, you find yourself a bit more compulsive, and a bit more anxious…and you may even have the occasional hallucination.
In a new book, Making the Connection Between Brain and Behavior: Coping with Parkinson's Disease, by Joseph H. Friedman., MD, a clinical professor of Clinical Neurosciences at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine of Brown University, discusses all of these symptoms in engaging prose. He has the rare wisdom of an excellent clinician who has seen firsthand everything he describes in the book but who also has a first-rate grasp of the current state of scientific knowledge of all of these non-motor and behavioral symptoms of PD. Friedman points out that it is these behavioral symptoms that cause so much stress to families trying to care for their loved ones with PD. He calls for more research into these symptoms. He laments the fact that there are few well-tested therapeutic options for many of these symptoms but he reviews those that are available. He has written an easy-to-read introduction to the behavioral symptoms of PD. I highly recommend it.