Posting Rules:

*When posting please recognize privacy and portability laws by ensuring all information posted on this site complies with all current HIPAA laws. Thank you.*

Friday, February 25, 2011

Peer Support: Effective treatment for depression?

A new meta-analytic study is providing yet more evidence for the value of social connectedness.  The analysis suggests that peer support is just as effective as CBT in the treatment of depression.

Peer Support in the treatment of depression


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Parkinson's specific form for VA PD service connection claims

I cannot remember if I have already posted this or not, but there is a Parkinson's disease specific form veterans who served in Vietnam should fill out if they are pursuing service connection for PD and probable Agent Orange exposure. 

Here is the link:  PD Disability Benefits Questionnaire

I usually help the veteran fill the form out and expand on the information either via a letter or in the comments section of the form, as the form itself is not very descriptive. In addition to this I always have the veteran get connected with their local Veteran Service Officer (VSO) to help with the applicaiton process. 

Do many of you work with Vietnam veterans who inquire about service connection benefits for their PD?


Friday, February 18, 2011

Berries and PD

Some interesting research on incorporating berries into your diet leading to a decreased risk of developing PD.

Berries and PD


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dopamine Agonists and Compulsive Behaviors

It seems there has been an increase in news stories of late about  dopamine agonists (DA) and their side effects, particularly compulsive behaviors. Two such stories recently have featured men with PD who are now suing the makers of these drugs because they developed compulsive behaviors that lead to financial or other loss in their life.  Here is one of the stories out of Scotland:

PD drug and gambling addiction law suit

Though infrequent, I have seen a handful of families in clinic that have experienced some level of financial ruin due to compulsive spending or gambling after beginning a dopamine agonist. Our clinicians do a great job of counseling patients AND spouses about the risk for side effects associated with these drugs, but a handful of patients experience these very troubling compulsive behaviors anyway and often lack insight into their behaviors. These compulsive behaviors nearly always cause hardship, loss, and grief for the patient, the spouse, and their relationship. Our clinicians are careful to assess for the presence of these troubling side effects at follow-up appointments with both the patient and the spouse, but due to the nature of the compulsive behaviors (often secretive) these compulsive behaviors can go on for some time with detection by the spouse or provider.

What is the Social Worker's role in counseling patients and spouses about the risks of these drugs before they start taking them and as they are taking them?  How much should providers and Social Workers assess for the existence of these compulsive behaviors beyond discussion of the matter in clinic?  There is no doubt that many PD patients can get substantial relief from some of their PD symptoms with the use of these drugs. But the prevalence rate of the terrible side effects associated with the use of DAs seems to be high enough that it begs the question of weighing the risk vs. the reward in taking these medications. There are other side effects associated with these drugs that are more common than compulsive behaviors (fatigue) that are troubling to PD patients as well.

I would love to hear others' thoughts on this matter. Specifically: 

  • How much do your providers use these DAs in the treatment of PD?
  • What is the prevalence rate of the compulsive behaviors side effect in the use of DAs?  
  • How frequently do you see the terrible side effects of compulsive behaviors in the use of these drugs?  
  • And ultimately how can we as social workers intervene to assist families with this issue?