Mental health is as important as physical health in your care plan

Many resources are designed to help Parkinson's patients and their families

Jamie Askari avatar

by Jamie Askari |

Share this article:

Share article via email
The banner image depicts friends having a picnic beneath rainbows. The writing on the image reads

Why do we often neglect our mental health? Although the term contains the word “health,” we don’t always care for the health of our minds as well as we do that of our bodies.

If we’re feeling under the weather, for instance, maybe with cold or flu symptoms, we typically stay home from work and get some extra rest, hoping to get better soon. If we’re dealing with an injury, such as a broken ankle, we wear a cast and use crutches for support until our ankle is healed. We sometimes need extra support, such as physical therapy, to help get that ankle working properly again, and we do it because it’s painful to walk on a stiff ankle.

When we’re feeling sad, lonely, anxious, or generally unhappy, however, it’s not as obvious to the world as a broken ankle or a miserable cough. Thus, it’s often hidden from the world — or sometimes even ignored altogether.

Recommended Reading
main graphic for column titled

Loss, meaninglessness, mortality: A look at Parkinson’s crisis events

Parkinson’s disease can take years to diagnose, especially the early-onset type. The three-ringed circus of doctors, specialists, and testing before a diagnosis can feel like a Ferris wheel that just keeps circling. And once the diagnosis is confirmed, it’s time to hop on the never-ending roller coaster we call Parkinson’s. It’s easy to see how mental health can take a back seat to all of that.

After my husband, Arman, a cardiologist, learned he had early-onset Parkinson’s disease in 2009, our priority was our children. He was 38, and our kids were 6, 9, and 13 — still very young. In addition to focusing our attention on figuring out our new life plan, which now included a neurodegenerative disease with no known cure, we knew our children needed us more than ever.

The news of their father’s diagnosis made them feel scared, confused, angry, sad, and completely overwhelmed. Although we may have been avoiding our own feelings of despair, we sprung into action to find qualified professionals to guide the kids through this painful time. We knew that how we handled this early on would set the tone for the future.

In the early stages, we were too busy focusing on the kids and the diagnosis to give our own mental health the much-needed attention it deserved. This priority, unfortunately, shortchanged a problem that wouldn’t go away on its own. We slowly began leaning on each other more to get through the hard times. Although Arman doesn’t always like what I have to say, he listens to my concerns and takes my suggestions and advice to heart. I do the same with him.

Recently, we discovered that there are therapists and psychiatrists who specialize in Parkinson’s disease. These fantastic professionals have dedicated their careers to helping people like us. They’re a phenomenal resource that, in my view, should be offered to patients at the time of diagnosis.

Physical and mental health are closely related, and taking good care of all aspects of your health is imperative. Prioritize taking the time to care for your well-being. Even small activities such as reading or gardening may count! Many great virtual options are available, including support groups, classes, and other educational programs, letting you attend from the comfort of your home.

Tend to your physical health and mental health equally. You may see some benefits in both areas. It’s worth a try!

Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Mike avatar


We tend to overlook our mental health with Parkinson’s, a debilitating physical condition. It an be the most challenging aspect of this disease. That you and your family recognize that is very important. You and Arman are fine examples of dealing with a condition that has changed everything. Keep up the good work, Blessings, Mike

Jamie Askari avatar

Jamie Askari

I agree Mike! It is such an important topic that is often overshadowed chronic disease. As always, thank yo again for your kind words. I appreciate you reading!


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.