A Personal Perspective on Anxiety and Parkinson's
Last updated: June 2023
To a person living with Parkinson's disease, anxiety is probably an all too familiar, hideous condition. Posy's story may ring a few bells.
Following a serious case of streptococcal pneumonia in 2002, Posy suffered a horrible depression. This illness followed her around, like a "Black Dog" for many years (these are the words used by Winston Churchill to describe his own depression.)
After several months of this misery, she finally stopped taking her morphine-based medication. This medicine had been prescribed upon her discharge after a 2-week hospital stay. After stopping the medication, Posy hoped she would return to life. However, what followed was a double whammy!
A forewarning of Parkinson's?
One night, Posy experienced excruciating electric shocks throughout her body. She had heard of restless legs as her father suffered these. But these ghastly feelings continued without respite through the night, preventing Posy from getting any sleep. Was this a heart problem?
In the morning, Posy called an ambulance. On her way to hospital, the paramedics took her blood pressure. As it was "normal" (150/90), they deduced that Posy was just having an anxiety attack. No amount of explaining that Posy’s blood pressure was normally 90/58 had any effect.
She was given diazepam and sent home. Now, Posy wonders if this awful akathisia (which became a recurring unwelcome visitor) was a forewarning of the Parkinson’s disease diagnosis that was to come in 2017. It seemed untreatable, except with benzodiazepines.
Anxiety takes over
Posy was then cursed with overwhelming anxiety throughout her whole body. It dominated every minute of every day. The depression did not move out to make room for this new delight. On the contrary, the 2 monsters decided to co-exist in Posy’s body and brain. She wanted only to hide in bed. Speaking on the phone made her heart beat out of her chest. Socializing was unthinkable.
Unable to cope with therapy
Deciding she must try therapy, Posy was dropped off at the door by her Dad. At first, she just could not take a step. Listening to the therapist nearly drove her insane. The light seemed to block her vision. He was so annoying, asking such predictable questions, offering such obvious insights. Posy wanted to scream!
What can you do?
Now, Posy will repeat the vital words of encouragement with which she concluded a previous article.
To anyone out there going through this: you are not alone! I, and many, many others, really can feel your pain. You are definitely not alone, and you are not crazy.
In her previous article, Posy also outlined small actions to help cope with depression. But, what can you do to cope with the symptoms of anxiety? The same tips apply:
- Start with slow movement
- Communicate with friends and family
- Create a nice environment for yourself
- Consider your treatment and medication options
- Consider trying hypnosis
For a more in-depth look at these tips, check out the article, "A Personal Perspective on What Depression Feels Like."
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