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Apathy is a 'sign of Parkinson's'

11th July 2006

It has been suggested that apathy could be one of the first signs of the onset of Parkinson's disease.

Research carried out by the American Academy of Neurology has claimed that apathy could be a "core" feature of Parkinson's, with patients often showing a lack of enthusiasm without displaying any signs of depression.

In a statement released by the academy, Dr Lindsey Kirsch-Darrow of the University of Florida in Gainesville, explained: "It's important to screen for both apathy and depression so patients can be treated appropriately."

According to Dr Kirsch-Darrow, who led the research: "Apathetic behaviour is not something the patient can voluntarily control, and it is not laziness or the patient trying to be difficult – it is a symptom of Parkinson's disease."

The study found that there existed "significantly higher severity and frequency of apathy" in Parkinson's sufferers compared to dystonia patients and the report points out that it is important for doctors to be aware that apathy can be present without depression.

Therefore, the report concludes that stimulant-type drugs could be used as a possible solution to help Parkinson's sufferers who display signs of apathy.