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Depression may triple Parkinson’s disease risk, especially in elderly

By RYAN JASLOW /CBS NEWS, www.cbsnews.com

The debilitating disorder Parkinson’s disease may be more likely to occur in depressed individuals.

Researchers in Taiwan tracked more than 22,000 adults for 10 years, and found those who had depression were more than three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s than those who were not depressed.

“Depression is linked in other studies to illnesses such as cancer and stroke,” Dr. Albert C. Yang, a psychiatrist with the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, said in a statement. “Our study suggests that depression may also be an independent risk factor for Parkinson’s disease.”

Parkinson’s disease is caused by the loss of a brain chemical called dopamine, which is responsible for muscle and motor control and other essential functions. Symptoms of the disease include tremors, stiffness, slowness of movement, posture problems and troubles with balance and coordination.

The disease is degenerative, meaning it gets worse over time. Tremors may eventually interfere with daily activities like walking, talking or eating, leading to permanent disability. Risk factors for Parkinson’s include older age, heredity, and being exposed to toxins like pesticides, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is more common in men than in women.

Depression and Parkinson’s disease have well-established links. Up to 60 percent of people with Parkinson’s experience mild or moderate symptoms of depression, according to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, with some research suggesting Parkinson’s may cause chemical brain changes leading to a depressive disorder.

People with both illnesses tend to have more movement problems and anxiety than those who have just one of the conditions, the National Institute of Mental Health adds. Read more at http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57605714/depression-may-triple-parkinsons-disease-risk-especially-in-elderly/

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