Depression and Parkinson’s Disease May Be Linked. Here’s What We Know.

Parkinson’s Disease is a complex condition. Actually, it’s more accurate to say that Parkinson’s is a family of closely related conditions, each of which affect the brain in different ways.

Parkinson’s progresses differently in different patients. In fact, it’s problematic to say that there’s a “standard” progression of the disease. Particular Parkinson’s symptoms become more likely to appear at different stages, but any patient hoping to set his or her watch by the disease’s presentation is likely to be sorely disappointed.

These caveats aside, recent research suggests a link between depression and PD. A landmark study of more than 100,000 Parkinson’s patients found that patients who have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives are more likely to be diagnosed with Parkinson’s sometime down the road.

This isn’t necessarily a causative relationship. It’s not accurate to say that depression causes Parkinson’s disease or vice versa. However, the link between depression and Parkinson’s is certainly worth exploring. Here’s a brief rundown of the study’s findings and a look at what they mean for the average person.

Study Term and Parameters

The study, overseen by researchers from Sweden’s Umea University, followed about 140,000 people who were diagnosed with depression between 1987 and 2002. Study participants ranged widely in age, but all had turned 50 by 2005.

Each study participant was matched with a similar individual (in terms of age, gender, demographics, and health status) who was not diagnosed with depression during the study period. Over the course of 26 years, the study administrators compared rates of Parkinson’s diagnosis among the study group with those among the control group.

The headline finding was this: study group members were more than twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease during the course of the study than members of the control group. Roughly 1 percent of the study group had been diagnosed with PD by the end of the study, compared to about 0.4 percent of the control group.

Other Notable Findings

Study participants with depression were significantly more likely to develop Parkinson’s Disease earlier in life. According to the study authors, people with depression were diagnosed with PD within a year of the study’s start and at more than three times the rate of people without depression, suggesting a link between depression and early-onset PD.

Additionally, there appeared to be a direct correlation between the severity of depression symptoms — as measured by hospitalization rates and other objective factors — and the likelihood of PD development. Study participants who had been hospitalized for depression at some point were more than three times as likely to develop PD as those who’d never been hospitalized.

Reality Check?

The apparent link between depression and Parkinson’s Disease is decidedly not cause for alarm. If you were diagnosed with depression in early life, and/or you still struggle with the disease today, you shouldn’t expect to develop other Parkinson’s symptoms as you age. Likewise, you might develop Parkinson’s without ever experiencing the symptoms of depression.

Parkinson’s and depression are both dependent on a host of different factors, many of which we’re still learning about, and some of which we likely aren’t even aware of at present. Right now, the best thing you can do is keep this news in perspective and carry on with your life.


5 Things You Can Do to Prevent Diving Injuries

Virtually every public pool has multiple “no diving” signs around its shallow end. Some place big placards at eye level around the pool, or etch or paint them on the wall tile. Others have “no diving” signs on their floor tile, the sides of the pool wells themselves, and even on pool bottoms.

The risks of deep-diving — swan diving, if you like — into shallow pools are self-evident:

  • Lacerations to the face and upper body
  • Broken skull and facial bones
  • Joint dislocation (shoulder)
  • Cervical (neck) spine injuries, possibly affecting mobility temporarily or permanently (partial or total paralysis)
  • Cervical vertebrae fractures and compression injuries

According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (as reported by the Shepherd Center), diving is the fourth most common cause of spinal cord injury for men. It’s the fifth most common for women. Every year, thousands of U.S. spinal cord injuries can be directly attributed to dives. At Healing Waters, we hear stories from many people who have sustained spinal cord injuries due to diving.

Fortunately, it is possible to prevent the vast majority of diving-related spinal cord injuries. Follow these tips to reduce the likelihood that you will be injured in a dive, and encourage your loved ones to do the same:

  1. Know Your Depth

The New York State Department of Health prohibits head-first diving into water with depths of less than 8 feet — nearly the depth of the “deep end” in a typical private swimming pool. Other organizations and state departments have their own sets of rules, but it’s generally not advisable to dive headlong into water that doesn’t reach the top of your head. If you’re diving from an elevated location, the minimum clearance necessary to prevent injury may be greater. Always err on the side of greater clearance.

  1. Enter the Water Feet First, if Possible

If possible, avoid diving altogether. Instead, enter the water feet first, preferably in a gradual fashion. Even if the water appears to be clear of obstacles, it’s easy to misjudge the distance to the bottom or fail to see a floating or fixed object that could cause injury.

  1. Be Aware of Hidden Obstacles in Natural Water Bodies

Diving into a natural body of water is far riskier than diving into a clear, well-lit pool. Natural bodies of water, particularly freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers, tend to be murkier than artificial pools. It’s often impossible to see more than a few inches or feet into the water — not far enough to gauge the body’s depth or ascertain the presence of obstacles.

What’s more, freshwater bodies with natural shorelines tend to be shallower (at least closer to the shoreline), and have submerged obstacles, such as rocks, trees, and outcrops. If you must dive into a natural body of water, do so from a boat equipped with a depth meter and subsurface sonar.

  1. Don’t Swim Alone

Swimming alone is inadvisable for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with spinal injuries. However, swimming in a group or with a partner is the best way to minimize the adverse effects of a diving injury. If you’re injured in a dive and are unable to call for help, your partner can do so for you, reducing the amount of time your injury is left untreated and thereby possibly improving the outcome.

  1. Avoid Alcohol and Other Substances When Swimming

Alcohol, prescription medication, and illicit drugs may impair judgment or balance. All swimming activities should be avoided when consuming mind-altering substances. Although it’s difficult to keep an accurate count of the number of diving injuries for which alcohol or illicit drug consumption was a contributing factor, it’s likely that impairment is at least partly to blame for a significant fraction.

Do it Like the Pros

If you have watched any professional swimming events, you’ve likely marveled at the precision with which competitors launch themselves into the water. They’re ready to break their personal records as soon as they hit the pool. Done properly, racing dives barely wet racers’ faces.

But by the time they’re showing their stuff on TV, professional racers have spent years honing every aspect of their crafts, including the graceful dives that kick off each event. They know just how to angle their dives to achieve the optimal combination of launch distance and safety (after all, a totally flat racing dive is simply a belly flop). Unless you’re the next Michael Phelps, you probably shouldn’t expect your first attempt at a racing dive to keep you in contention for the gold medal.

Bottom line: If you are really serious about preventing diving injuries, keep things simple. Flashy alternatives to traditional dives might get you noticed, but they’re not likely to keep you safe.

4 Common Spinal Cord Injuries & Treatment Options

Spinal cord injuries come in many different forms and have many different causes. Some causes are more likely than others to result in a particular type of injury. What follows is a list of four common causes of spinal cord injury, the potential long-term effects of each, and the treatment options that may be indicated for patients who fall victim to these injuries.

  1. Vehicle Accidents

Vehicle accidents represent a distressingly common cause of spinal cord injury. Such accidents can take numerous forms, including car-on-car, truck-on-car, train-on-car, car-on-bike and car-on-pedestrian. The vehicles involved in the crash as well as the speeds and energy involved determine the severity of the accident and the resulting injury. For instance, a cyclist who is struck by a car traveling at 30 miles per hour is likely to be far more seriously injured than a restrained driver in a vehicle equipped with airbags struck by another car traveling at 30 miles per hour.

Most vehicle-related spinal cord injuries require emergency surgery to stabilize the spine, remove organic and inorganic debris from the injury site, and prevent further injury to the nervous system. Subsequent surgeries may be required to address complications or restore function. Physical therapy is indicated over the long term.

  1. Sports Injuries

Sports accidents produce a wide variety of spinal and brain injuries. Some may be the result of multiple traumatic events, such as repeated concussions on the football field or from excessive use of the head in soccer. Others may be the result of a single traumatic event, such as a particularly devastating collision or fall during an extreme sports competition.

For injuries that develop over time, recognising the insult and preventing further damage is critical. Return to play questions have serious consequences and fortunately are being examined more and more by health professionals and the general public. Catastrophic injuries may require a similar course of treatment to that required for patients after serious motor vehicle accidents.

  1. Workplace Accidents

Workplace accidents, including falls-from-height and injuries resulting from falling debris, can cause serious and sometimes permanent spinal cord and brain injuries. As with sports injuries, workplace events can also arise from repeated trauma that results in latent injury and can produce debilitating problems down the road. Indicated treatment depends on the nature and severity of the injury and can range from conservative management to emergent surgery.

It is important to note that, in situations where it can be proved that an employer’s negligence directly resulted in an injury, litigation may become a part of the ongoing treatment and problem. Workers compensation is a valuable resource for all workers.

  1. Compression Fractures, Ruptured Discs, Bone Spurs and Other Vertebral Abnormalities

Although we often think of spinal injuries as resulting from a single catastrophic trauma, it is quite common — particularly in older populations — for serious spinal damage to result from multiple minor events. For instance, compression fractures are common in individuals with reduced bone density, while ruptured discs can occur in amateur sports enthusiasts with alarming frequency. Bone spurs that compress the spine can happen without any external prompting, while tumors, lesions and other abnormalities can dramatically affect the spinal cord and peripheral nervous system. Indicated treatment generally depends on the nature of the injury, the severity of the symptoms and the patient’s preference or bias.

Do you know anyone who has suffered a spinal cord injury?

John Gorecki MD WordPress Bio

Dr. John Gorecki, MD, is a board certified neurosurgeon with over 25 years of experience. After earning his medical degree from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Dr. Gorecki completed a surgical internship at Saint Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. He subsequently finished a competitive, rigorous neurosurgery residency at the University of Toronto, Canada.

Dr. Gorecki is a current Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons. He holds board certification with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the American Board of Neurological Surgery. Other current memberships and certifications include membership with the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Dr. Gorecki’s neurosurgical subspecialties include stereotactic surgery and focused radiotherapy for tumor treatment, deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease and other disorders, radiosurgery (Gamma Knife and Cyberknife) for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia, and transnasal endoscopic pituitary surgery.

Following residency, Dr. Gorecki held teaching positions at the University of Mississippi School of Medicine and Duke University Medical Center. More recently, he has served as Chief of Neurosurgery for Via Christi Health and Gamma Knife Director for Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Kansas.

Dr. Gorecki’s independent practice is located on the campus of Northside Hospital- Forsyth, in Cumming, Georgia.. His empathetic bedside manner and consistently positive patient outcomes have bolstered his reputation as a leading U.S. neurosurgeon.