Dealing with the Diagnosis

Dealing with the Diagnosis

Learning that you have Parkinson’s can be a difficult experience. After your diagnosis, it’s normal to feel afraid and wonder how you would physically cope during the days ahead. Naturally, these feelings use up a lot of energy, which can make it even harder to absorb and understand all the medical information shared by the diagnosis team.

However, with time and practice, you can find ways to go on with your work, hobbies, and social life. As you look for a way of coping that works for you, you may want to try some of the below mentioned ideas.

1. Accept and express your feelings

Giving some outlet to your feelings will help. Avoid judging yourself for your emotions. People may tell you that expressing grief, fear, or anger is a sign of weakness. In fact, the opposite is often true. It’s much harder to express emotions than hiding them. Since there are many ways to express your feelings, find the one that fits you. You may want to talk to your partner, trusted friends or keep a private journal.  Some people even express their feelings through music, painting, or drawing.

2. Reach out to others

It’s very hard to handle Parkinson’s all alone. Tell your family and friends. Here, talking to your loved ones could be difficult because you don’t want to upset them. But, remember that they will want to support you as you desperately need someone to give you a hug. You may also find that it helps you and your loved ones to go to appointments or treatment sessions together.

Since your loved ones are not trained professionals and they may also be hurt because of your diagnosis, ask someone to talk to them about their fears and frustrations.

3. Learn about your Parkinson’s

Learn as much as you can about your Parkinson’s, its severity and treatment available. Learning about your condition and treatment options will give you a sense of control over what’s happening to your brain. Write down your questions and concerns beforehand. Whenever you meet your doctor after diagnosis, consider asking:

  • What are my treatment options?
  • How will the treatment benefit me?
  • What can I expect during treatment?
  • What are the side effects of chosen treatment?
  • When should I call the doctor?
  • How likely are my children to get Parkinson’s?

Ask your doctor what changes you should anticipate as the disease progresses. Think about which approach works best for you – medication, surgery or therapeutic methods.

4. Shift your perspective

Staying positive can be hard in such a difficult situation, but trying to do so can really help you cope. At times, changing the way you think about something can alter the way you feel about it, too. Try focusing on what you can do rather than what you can’t do. Discuss your worries with your loved ones so that they can often reassure you.

This type of cognitive shift may not happen overnight, but with regular practice, you can change your frame of mind to enjoy the experiences and memories you have, rather than mourning the inevitable return to your daily life.

5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Take care of yourself to deal with the emotional side of your diagnosis. Remember grieving after diagnosis is taxing physically, emotionally and spiritually. So, get enough sleep and eat properly. This can improve your energy level.

Exercising regularly and participating in enjoyable activities may help. If your doctor agrees that it’s OK, start a mild exercise program such as walking, yoga, swimming, or stretching. Exercise can help you feel better, relieve stress, help deter depression and improve your self-esteem.

6. Join a support group

When you feel lonely and wonder how you’ll cope, find strength in sharing thoughts and feelings with others who understand what you’re going through. Consider attending a local Parkinson’s support group. Fellow support group members will understand your struggles because they have gone through the same challenges. This will make you feel that you are not alone in this fight against Parkinson’s.

If you are reluctant to attend a support group because you may see others with advanced cases, and won’t be able to handle that, talk on the phone with others who have Parkinson’s. Try to widen your circle by reaching out to a friend or someone known who has had Parkinson’s.

7. Seek expert advice

If feelings of sadness and depression grow stronger with time, discuss it with your doctor. People often need medical treatment to deal with depression in Parkinson’s. Your doctor may prescribe counseling and medication. If the depression gets worse or doesn’t improve, you might need a change in medication.

This Blog is contributed by Dr. Deepak Kr. Nain. He is a certified therapist who specializes in the field of rehabilitation. Deepak possesses a clinical expertise in prescribing the best solutions to help people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).

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