My husband’s consultant psychiatrist contacted me today to say that he thinks my husband may have Parkinson’s Disease.
My husband is currently in a care home after being in psychiatric hospitals and a rehabilitation centre for several months. He has had long term mental health difficulties, but over the past two years, he has experienced a physical decline. He started ‘shuffling’ when he walked, he has a very ‘stiff’ expression, his voice is very weak, and since he has been in hospital and care, he cannot get in and out of the bath without assistance, he has a constant running nose and he seems to be tired all the time.
The psychiatrist phoned me because one of the anti-psychotic medications that my husband has been taking can bring on symptoms similar to Parkinson’s, and he wanted to ascertain whether or not the symptoms began before his admission to hospital. I could confirm that they did.
My husband does not have a formal diagnosis, but the more I find out about Parkinson’s, the more it seems to explain some of the physical symptoms that my husband has been experiencing. I also wonder if the escalation in his anxiety and depression could have been accentuated by Parkinson’s.
Anyway, that is my introduction. I will be using the forum for support and advice.
Hi and a warm welcome to the forum, @hotchoclover, (Lovely name for this time of year, by the way ) You’ve definitely come to the right place. This is a friendly and supportive space for our members and I’m sure some of them will be along to say hello soon.
This is a lot for you to take in with your husband already in a care home and not able to be at home with you. It’s true that some medications used in mental health difficulties can bring on Parkinson’s type symptoms, but it sounds like this might be more. This article on our website may help you understand what Parkinson’s is and whether it’s the cause of the symptoms: Do I have Parkinson's?.
Ultimately, only a Parkinson’s specialist can diagnose it after some testing. Do you know when this might happen? Hopefully it won’t be too long before you have some concrete answers.
You might benefit from talking to our helpline advisers about your concerns. It’s a great source of support and advice. Ring them on 0808 800 0303. I also hope that your husband’s care home and your GP can offer you some support during this uncertain and worrying time.
Forum Moderation Team
Thank you for the reply.
The care home are very supportive, but in many cases, when someone’s mental and physical health declines for no immediately obvious reason, it can take some time to find out what is going on.
There are just one or two specific questions that I would like to ask here or to ask a specialist if my husband sees one.
My husband began ‘shuffling’ (I apologise for the terminology but I cannot think of another word to describe his walk) in about 2021, over a year before his admission to hospital. He also had problems with his vision and orientation. Could this be indicative of the very early symptoms of PD?
He experienced a strange incident, which at the time was considered to be a TIA (mini stroke), and later thought to be something to do with his heart. His legs ‘gave way’ and he had to drag himself back into the house. This incident lasted several hours. Could this be related to PD? My husband does have hardening of the arteries.
Although my husband has experienced mental ill health, these have been related to anxiety, depression and OCD. However, the hallucinations he experienced prior to being admitted to hospital are something new. Could this be related?
The questions, I feel, are pertinent to my husband being referred for further assessment because they occurred prior to the prescription for the antipsychotics which may have side effects that include symptoms similar to PD.
What a complex situation you describe and to be honest I don’t feel I can make much comment but I did want to say welcome to the forum and please keep us posted as when you know a bit more maybe I or others can offer something more helpful in relation to your questions. For now I can only echo Janice’s comments.
I did however, want you to know that Parkinson’s strikes me as the most strange of conditions - and I speak as one who was diagnosed 14 years ago this month. It is often described as a very individual condition, which could be said of many conditions but does seem to be particularly true of Parkinson’s. In my personal opinion it can partly depend on pre-morbid personality type and pre-existing factors like mental health issues. It does seem to me (again my personal opinion) somewhat strange that even when taking such factors into account, it doesn’t explain why one person does well on a specific medication that causes another all sorts of problems and s third person different again, it doesn’t explain why such different symptoms can be seen within the general genre, temor and mobility issuesin particular could be seen to be examples of that. As a subject it can be fascinating, when trying to live with it in whatever capacity, it can be the devil’s own job to understand or make some sense of. I appreciate that this doesn’t help you in your current position but maye explains a little as to whyI don’t feel I can offer much that is constructive at the moment there seems to be a lot of contradictory elements which may well point to Parkinson’s or may be something else completely. As things stand I feel like I can’t see the wood for the trees but please don’t give up on the forum. When your husband’s situation is clearer we may well be able to help a bit more. I hope you get some answers soon.
Thank you for the very honest and insightful reply. My husband is seeing the GP today, and the home have told me that the anti-psychotic medication that he has been taken has been stopped at the consultant’s request.
I think the home and GP will be monitoring my husband to see if the symptoms subside a little, and to see to what extent any of his more worrying MH symptoms return,
When I have communicated with the home, they tell me that many of my husband’s physical problems relate to anxiety. Their working theory is that he had a health scare (when his legs gave way) and this has made him so anxious that he will not leave his room. The resulting inactivity has then cause a rapid decline in his muscle tone, and this is why he has some of the problems I have noticed.
Whilst I do not deny he is anxious (he is autistic and this compounds his anxiety), I do not think the working theory explains everything.
He cannot get in or out of a bath, for example, and the home help him use their wet room. He struggles to get up and down the stairs, and this causes him to tend to isolate himself in the room. He has chronic constipation (he is going for a colonoscopy this week. The first one had to be abandoned due to a blockage). He finds it difficult to carry a cup of coffee (he complains of weakness in his wrist). He has terrible dreams, although I have heard that this could be caused by the statins he is on. He no longer shaves because it causes his hands and arms to ache.
Yet, you say, PD is really variable between individuals and there are lots of other explanations from the cluster of symptoms my husband is experiencing.
Thank you again for the support,