Can Traumatic Experiences Trigger Parkinson's Disease?
By Katherine Widnell
Oct 18, 2017
Updated Jul 13, 2023
5 min read
After the death of a grandchild more than a year ago, 59-year-old Mike Sommercorn was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. It started when he noticed uncontrollable tremors in his right hand. With time, he also experienced extreme fatigue. While taking a passport photo for a family cruise, he thought he was smiling when he wasn’t. All of this led to his diagnosis.
Parkinson's is a neurodegenerative disease in which your brain cells that produce dopamine start to die, which causes you to gradually lose muscle control. No matter your age, Parkinson’s can seem like a scary thing, but thankfully, with the right care, the symptoms of Parkinson’s can be manageable.
If you have slowness on one side of your body, you should see your doctor. This isn’t just a symptom of normal aging. However, symptoms of Parkinson's disease worsen as you age. These symptoms include tremors, stiffness, slow movement, impaired balance, and a shuffling gait. Some patients may feel more stiffness than others. For some, the tremors are more predominant. You may also have a hard time forming facial expressions.
The cause of Parkinson's is unknown, but a stressful or traumatic event can sometimes trigger symptoms. After the death of a family member, a big operation, or a car accident, tremors may become very prominent. Additionally, stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation always make tremors worse.
Medications and lifestyle changes can help people with Parkinson’s manage the disease. Mike Sommercorn is one example. He’s controlling his symptoms with exercise and medication. The medication allows him to exercise, which helps to slow the progression of the disease.
There’s no cure for Parkinson's disease and anyone can get it. It's a condition that can rob you of your quality of life — but it’s manageable, and you don’t have to walk this road alone.