Parkinson’s Treatment for Non-Motor Symptoms

A hallmark of Parkinson’s is movement problems, but the disease has many non-movement symptoms as well.

A lot of the medications that address the non-movement problems are not specific for Parkinson’s. Because a wide array of such medications is available, Parkinson’s patients need to discuss with their doctor what treatments are best for them. One reason these discussions are necessary is that some treatments for non-movement problems can interact with Parkinson’s medications.

Therapies for blood-pressure plunges

Parkinson’s patients often experience orthostatic hypotension, a sudden drop in blood pressure when standing up. This can cause dizziness, lightheadedness or even lead to a person passing out.

Northera (droxidopa) has been used to treat Parkinson’s-related orthostatic hypotension. The body converts it to norepinephrine, a naturally occurring chemical that regulates blood pressure.

Therapies for psychosis

The U.S. Federal Drug Administration has approved Nuplazid (pimavanserin) to treat hallucinations and delusions stemming from Parkinson’s.

Before Nuplazid’s approval, doctors often prescribed Clozaril (clozapine) or Seroquel (quetiapine). Both affect the neurotransmitter dopamine, however, so they may worsen Parkinson’s.

Therapies for dementia

The most common treatment for Parkinson’s-related dementia is Exelon (rivastigimine).

Clinical trials have shown it to be effective. Similar treatments include Aricept (donepezil) and Razadyne (galantamine).

Drugs for depression

Depression and anxiety are common among Parkinson’s patients. There is no specific treatment for Parkinson’s-related depression, so patients are often treated with serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. Serotonin is a chemical that affects a person’s mood and feeling of well-being, so increasing it can help combat depression.

Common serotonin re-uptake inhibitors include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, and Lexapro.  Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors are similar therapies. They include Effexor, Pristiq, Savella, Cymbalta, and Serzone.

Doctors also prescribe a third class of antidepressants called tricyclic antidepressants. They include Remeron, Wellbutrin, and Elavil. They have more side effects than other therapies, however.

Physicians treat anxiety with a group of drugs called benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, and Xanax.

Therapies for sleep disorders

Parkinson’s patients can experience a variety of sleep disorders.

Doctors prescribe Klonopin (clonazepam) or melatonin for those with REM sleep behavior disorder, which involves sleepers acting out vivid dreams. Patients with insomnia can take medications such as Restoril (temazepam), Ambien (zolpidem), Lunesta (eszopiclone), or Sonata (zaleplon).

Therapies for sexual dysfunction

Men with Parkinson’s can experience erectile dysfunction. Treatments include Viagra (sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), and Levitra (vardenafil).

Therapies for constipation

If diet and lifestyle changes fail to prevent constipation, patients can use a range of medications. They include fiber supplements such as Metamucil (psyllium), stool softeners such as Colace (docusate) and Miralax (polyethylene glycol), and laxatives such as Dulcolax (bisacodyl).

Therapies for drooling

An inability to regulate the amount of saliva coming from the salivary glands can cause drooling, as can difficulties swallowing. Common treatments for drooling are Robinul (glycopyrrolate), Artane (trihexyphenidyl), and antidepressants such as Elavil (amitriptyline).

Therapies for urinary symptoms

Parkinson’s patients often have to urinate more urgently and more frequently, a situation that can lead to incontinence. Drugs that relax the muscles of the bladder can relieve the symptoms. They  include Ditropan (oxybutynin), Detrol (tolterodine), Flomax (tamsulosin), and Myrbetriq (mirabegron).

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.