I have more problems with fatigue, apathy, and depression than I do with motor issues. The non-motor symptoms bother me more. Is this common?
Yes, it is common for many living with PD to experience a variety of non-motor symptoms. Parkinson's disease is officially classified as a movement disorder because it involves damage to the areas of the brain, nerves, and muscles that influence the speed, quality, fluency, and ease of movement. These are often the most visible, but non-motor symptoms can sometimes have an even more significant effect on your quality of life.
Non-motor PD symptoms may outnumber motor symptoms and can appear years before. These may include a wide variety of symptoms ranging from mental, emotional, and cognitive changes to sleep issues, constipation, urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, pain, anxiety, and depression. Just as PD affects everyone differently, the type, frequency, and severity of non-motor symptoms each person experiences varies.
Non-motor symptoms are more challenging to identify because they are not as apparent as the physical. They also can be caused by other conditions that are not associated with PD, especially in younger adults. The non-motor symptoms also tend to cause more stress and frustration in everyday life.
For example, non-motor symptoms, such as fatigue and excess daytime sleepiness, impact all the activities you want and need to do. Urinary incontinence also affects your ability to get a good night's sleep. When tired, we lack the motivation to plan or participate in activities that are good for us or that we enjoy. We don't have enough energy or motivation to exercise, so we stop doing what research has proven to be vital for controlling motor symptoms.
Knowing what non-motor symptoms are associated with PD and discussing them with your neurologist is essential. Keep a diary of your symptoms, including type, frequency and severity.
Information regarding what you should look for is included in articles, webinars, and other sources of information provided online by all the major national organizations, including the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA), the Parkinson Foundation (PF), the Davis Phinney Foundation (DPF), and the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJF). To learn more, check out what these resources have to say and follow the suggestions recommended.