Total Pageviews

Monday, January 20, 2014

Apathy and Parkinson's Disease

Definition of Apathy: 
   1. Lack of passion, emotion, excitement
   2. Lack of interest, a state of indifference
   3. Lack of motivation

Apathy can be a major non-motor symptom of Parkinson's disease. Combine it with fatigue, another major non-motor symptom, and it's no wonder we Parkies can be seen as lazy, disinterested or uncaring by friends, family and even strangers. 

What causes apathy in people with Parkinson's? It is believed to be due to chemical changes in the basal ganglia part of the brain. Dopamine is not only the primary neurotransmitter for motor control and movement, but it is also necessary for goal-oriented behavior, enjoyment and motivation. In other words, dopamine is our "feel good" chemical and as the dopamine levels in our brain get less and less, we no longer enjoy the things we used to and we become more apathetic. It's not that we DON'T care, it's that we CAN'T care. Our dopamine deprived brains just don't work like they used to.

I am just as apathetic as the rest of you. I used to enjoy going to karaoke, but it's in the evening and by that time of day, I don't feel like going out. After dinner, it's easier to put on my pajamas and watch TV instead. I was never into card playing or crafts, and I'm not a reader, so I am bored, a lot. I have a problem with my neck/shoulder which is aggravated by computer use, so I don't even spend much time online anymore. I'm not a cook and cleaning also aggravates my shoulder, so mostly, I do nothing (thank goodness my Wonderful Husband cooks and helps with the cleaning.) I have closets full of clothes I don't wear, so I can't even get interested in going shopping. 

I did, however, start walking again. I walk alone in the mornings and with a neighbor in the afternoon. I used to enjoy talking on my walks, but now I mostly listen, as I have developed some speech problems and I can tell people have a hard time understanding me. 

About the only things I DO look forward to are social interactions with friends and neighbors. I usually don't say much (the speech thing), but I enjoy listening. I have always enjoyed being around people and I still do. 

So, next time a social invite comes your way, say YES! Force yourself to get up and get out and get moving. You might actually find yourself ENJOYING it. 


  1. Wow thats eye opening I knew dopamine was a feel good chemical
    wHEN I;m on the phone nobody could hear me got a,new smart phone its a lot smarter than me!! Without my wonderful husband I would be lost. We havw to hang in there or a cure!!!

  2. Very good points. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Thanks for sharing this Bev! Apathy is a big issue in PD, and I appreciate your candidness about how it impacts you!
    Great post!


  4. I really enjoy reading your Parkinson's Humor blog. Your fortitude and sunny way of looking at life always brightens my day. This was another really great blog because you speak with such beautiful candor and grace, even about the hard and difficult stuff. Anna from NPF

  5. Once again, Bev...You nailed it. Thanks for sharing this for Parkies everywhere. Cindy D via Facebook

  6. So true! I didn't realize til a couple of years ago, when I learned at a PD conference, that PWP often cannot recognize emotions in other people either, due to the lack of Dopamine. That explains why my hubby ignores me when I am crying or upset! thanks for sharing, Bev! Terrie T via Facebook

  7. So thankful for your insight YumaBev! Helps me to understand my mother's apathy.