Parkinson’s fatigue is a regular challenge for many, including Dad
The exhaustion can be emotional as well as physical
The sun peeked through the window at 8 a.m. on a weekday morning, and I found myself wanting to shut the world out.
The day before, I’d hiked 12 miles through the Rocky Mountains with a friend, and my chronic illness had made it difficult to rebound from the exertion. I was fatigued even after sleeping for 24 hours straight.
Although I looked fine on the outside, internally, my body was demanding a nap. As I navigated through these sensations, I realized that this was what Parkinson’s disease demanded of my dad on a regular basis.
Fatigue is a common symptom of Parkinson’s. It can rear its ugly head at any time, but it’s most often noticed during the early stages of the disease. My dad noticed a dip in his energy around the time of his diagnosis, but 10 years later, he’s noticing further shifts in his habits.
He recently told me, “I suffer from fatigue. I used to take 15-minute naps, but now they last for 30 or even 45 minutes.” His fatigue lasts longer as his disease progresses, demanding more rest and less exertion.
He went on to explain that he notices this symptom most in the afternoons. “I feel fatigued sometimes during the day — emotional fatigue more than physical,” Dad said.
And he isn’t alone in his experience. Last year, my fellow columnist Jamie Askari wrote about her husband Arman’s fatigue and how it affects his days. She aptly pointed out that many Parkinson’s patients struggle to sleep through the night, that fatigue is a side effect of many common Parkinson’s medications, and that most patients struggle with the symptom at some point on their journey. While Jamie and Arman have yet to find a solution to his regular bouts of fatigue, they’re searching for ways to manage it.
As for Dad, he continues to battle this symptom along with the apathy it brings to his life. “You don’t have the motivation to do much,” he said. “Fatigue kind of takes your motivation away.”
Yet he manages to stay optimistic and hopeful that researchers will develop new solutions for managing Parkinson’s progression and fatigue. “I’m holding out for a drug to slow the progression down. I know they’re working on it,” he said.
Do you or a loved one experience Parkinson’s fatigue? Please share any tips or insight in the comments below.
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.