In Mood: A Mind's Guide to Parkinson’s, the newest educational book from the Parkinson’s Foundation, we explore mood changes associated with Parkinson’s disease (PD), why people with Parkinson’s might experience these changes and how to treat and cope with them.
One way to help people better understand and manage these changes is through psychotherapy: when a mental or emotional disorder is treated by talking to a therapist or counselor. Many people are nervous or embarrassed to seek mental health counseling, but psychotherapy can help you cope with a medical condition and the psychological component that is part of Parkinson’s.
These are the top six myths associated with seeing a psychotherapist or counselor:
Myth: Seeing a therapist is a sign of weakness.
Truth: Seeking out a therapist is a brave step and a sign that you realize that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Therapists can be helpful for both people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers.
Myth: The therapist is going to share my business with others.
Truth: Therapists are trained professionals, and everything you say, short of wanting to harm yourself or others, is confidential. Your therapist will not share your issues with a mutual friend, but a friend might do so by accident.
Myth: Only “crazy” people need counseling.
Truth: Just as individuals may need physical therapy to increase their mobility or speech therapy to enhance their voice, many people can benefit from mental health therapy to help increase their ability to cope and strengthen their mental adaptive strategies.
Myth: They’ll make me talk about my childhood, and I’ll be stuck going forever.
Truth: Therapy doesn’t mean you will be talking about your childhood. In fact, cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT (which was shown to be beneficial in a study done as part of the Parkinson’s Outcomes Project), involves goal-directed steps to help change your thinking and behavior patterns, so you can feel better. Treatment can also be short-term.
Myth: My friends can handle and provide advice for all my problems, and they want to help.
Truth: Your friends are not professionals. Although they can listen and are well-intentioned, they may have their own struggles and may not be able to take on yours. Also, your friends’ advice doesn’t come from years of experience working with people in similar situations, like a therapist’s advice does. Therapists have specific skills, knowledge, and techniques for dealing with depression and anxiety.
Myth: As a caregiver, it is my job to make my loved one happy and constantly try to lift their spirits.
Truth: You are not responsible for making your loved one happy. Trying to keep someone else happy all the time is the surest way to develop caregiver burnout. Report depression, anxiety, or mood changes to the doctor and a therapist, who will use their professional skills to help.
This article is an excerpt from Mood: A Mind's Guide to Parkinson’s (page 23). Download the educational guide today to learn more about Parkinson’s-related depression and anxiety and how to manage these symptoms — for both people with PD and care partners. To order your free print version, contact our Helpline at 1-800-4PD-INFO (1-800-473-4636) or firstname.lastname@example.org.