Parkinson’s disease is widely known as a neurological condition that causes motor symptoms. Typically, patients with Parkinson’s disease have pill-rolling tremor, cogwheel rigidity, and a shuffling gait. However, about half of all patients with Parkinson’s disease also have psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety and depression. It can be challenging for patients and caregivers to deal with Parkinson’s disease, but if anxiety and depression are also present, it can make matters worse. When psychiatric symptoms occur, they can make Parkinson’s disease more difficult to treat, increase the burden on caregivers, and greatly reduce quality-of-life for patients.
One of the things that make psychiatric symptoms so difficult to treat in patients with Parkinson’s disease is that doctors have limited treatment options. The antidepressants that they would normally use to treat depression and anxiety can make motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease worse. People with Parkinson’s disease often struggle with sleep disturbances, and typical antidepressants can make sleep problems worse, too. Not surprisingly, many patients with Parkinson’s disease suffer from depression and anxiety and never find adequate treatment.
Physicians recently reported their experience with a patient with Parkinson’s disease who they treated with hyperbaric oxygen. The man had struggled with Parkinson’s disease for 1.5 years and had slipped into a severe depression. He had lost interest in pleasurable activities, was only sleeping about 2 to 3 hours each night, unintentionally lost over 40 pounds, and was having thoughts of suicide. He also had significant anxiety issues that made his life very difficult. Regular drug and psychotherapy treatments for anxiety and depression did not work for this man, so physicians were left with few options.
The man with Parkinson’s disease, severe depression, and anxiety underwent 30 days of hyperbaric oxygen treatments. He inhaled pure oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber for 40 minutes per session at 2 atm of pressure. In as little as four days of hyperbaric oxygen treatment, the man was sleeping better and longer than he did before treatment. His mood has also improved.
After 30 days of hyperbaric oxygen treatments, the man was able to sleep for 8 to 10 hours a night. Not only did his psychiatric symptoms improve, but his Parkinson’s disease symptoms also improved. While he still had Parkinson’s disease symptoms after hyperbaric oxygen treatment, the symptoms had improved substantially.
When physicians followed up one month after treatment had ended, the patient was still sleeping through the night, his mood was good, and he did not need assistance with his activities of daily living.
It is important to remember that this is a case study, the results of a single patient. Nevertheless, the improvements in both Parkinson’s disease and severe symptoms of anxiety and depression are incredibly impressive. For this man, at least, hyperbaric oxygen therapy had a substantial positive effect in his life where other treatments had failed.
Patients can also combine Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy with Regenerative Medicine. Regenerative Medicine is an alternative option to help manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. The stem cells have the potential to replicate and repair numerous cells of the body, including those damaged by Parkinson’s. These advancements in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease work to fully regenerate missing or damaged tissue that the body would not ordinarily regrow.
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Reference: Xu, Jin-Jin et al. (2018). Hyperbaric oxygen treatment for Parkinson’s disease with severe depression and anxiety. Medicine. 2018 Mar; 97(9): e0029.