Warning Signs of Depression in PKU Patients

Warning Signs of Depression in PKU Patients
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Living with a rare chronic disease such as phenylketonuria (PKU) can be very stressful. Being limited to a strict diet also could make you feel isolated and alone. The abnormal levels of phenylalanine and tyrosine in the brain of PKU patients may also lower the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in reward processing.

All these factors may contribute to feelings of depression. Research has shown that almost 20% of patients with PKU may experience some form of depression.

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the following signs of depression, you should talk to your doctor about possible further evaluation and treatment.

Loss of interest

If you find you are no longer interested in things that used to bring you enjoyment, such as hobbies or social activities, then you may be experiencing depression.

Changes in weight or appetite

Depression and stress can cause sudden increases or decreases in your weight. Some people respond to stress by eating more, while others tend to lose their appetite

Feelings of despair or hopelessness

If you feel hopeless and like there is nothing you can do to ever make things better, this could be a warning sign of depression.

Mood changes

Depression can also lead to sharp changes in mood. Your temper may be shorter than usual, and small things may set you off unexpectedly and out of proportion to the severity of the trigger. Restlessness and frequent agitation are other signs of depression.

Some people with depression, though, have a distinct lack of emotion. You may not experience happiness or sadness, just a general numbness.

Changes in sleep

Depression can lead to changes in your sleep as well. Some people experience it as insomnia, while others experience it as oversleeping and having trouble getting out of bed.

Problems focusing

Trouble concentrating, remembering things, and making decisions are common signs of depression. They may also be signs of other issues such as lack of sleep or even dehydration.

New aches or pains

Sometimes depression can manifest as new aches or pains in the body such as unexpected back pain or headaches.

Changes in energy levels and loss of motivation

You may notice you lack energy. Feelings of fatigue and sluggishness can make your body feel heavy and make tasks take longer. It may also be hard to motivate yourself to do even simple activities such as preparing a meal.

Guilt or self-loathing

People with depression also frequently have feelings of worthlessness. You may be overly critical of your appearance, actions, or perceived faults.

Suicidal thoughts

One of the most serious signs of depression is thoughts about death and suicide. If you are having suicidal thoughts or know someone who may be suicidal, seek professional help as soon as possible. The National Suicide Hotline is available 24 hours a day to provide phone, text, or chat assistance in the U.S. The International Association for Suicide Prevention provides contact information to help patients in numerous European countries.

 

Last updated: Jan. 21, 2021

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Phenylketonuria News 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 other 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.

Brian holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. He has co-authored numerous scientific articles based on his previous research in the field of brain-computer interfaces and functional electrical stimulation. He is also passionate about making scientific advances easily accessible to the public.
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Özge has a MSc. in Molecular Genetics from the University of Leicester and a PhD in Developmental Biology from Queen Mary University of London. She worked as a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the University of Leicester for six years in the field of Behavioural Neurology before moving into science communication. She worked as the Research Communication Officer at a London based charity for almost two years.
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Brian holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. He has co-authored numerous scientific articles based on his previous research in the field of brain-computer interfaces and functional electrical stimulation. He is also passionate about making scientific advances easily accessible to the public.
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