Date: November 20, 2008
Contact: Jennifer Forbes
New Study to Treat Parkinson’s Patients for Depression without Drugs NIH-funded Study is First of its Kind
PISCATAWAY, NJ – A new study being conducted at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School will provide patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease strategies to cope with depression through behavior modification rather than drug therapy. It is the first study to be funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), that uses cognitive-behavioral treatment instead of medication.
The 10-week treatment study, led by clinical psychologist Roseanne D. Dobkin, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry, is looking for 80 patients who are willing to learn and develop positive behavioral skills for dealing with depression that results from Parkinson’s. Symptoms of depression include becoming more isolated, feeling sad or empty most of the day, having difficulty falling or staying asleep, loss of interest in daily activities, the inability to concentrate, and feeling anxious, tense or worried. The goal of the skills-based study is to teach patients and a close support person how to identify patterns of thought related to depression and alter their thoughts and behavior to produce positive outcomes. To achieve this, Dr. Dobkin, will work with patients to increase social interaction and support, learn relaxation techniques and increase exercise.
“Depression is a very common complication of Parkinson’s disease and it causes immense personal suffering,” said Dr. Dobkin. “Through this study, I am hoping to help patients develop positive thinking and increase their involvement in positive activities so that their symptoms of depression can be addressed without medication.”
In addition to having a support person participate with them in the study, patients are required to be between 35 and 85 years of age and have sufficient memory capacity. Participation in the study may last up to four months and all research care, including an extensive psychiatric evaluation is provided at no cost to those who qualify. Following completion in the study, patients will be provided with self-help materials and referrals for local behavioral skills support. Participants do not have to be established patients at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School or its University Medical Group and do not have to change providers during the study.
Dr. Dobkin specializes in helping patients with Parkinson’s and their family members cope with the non-motor aspects (depression, anxiety, sleep disorders) associated with the medical condition. Her work has focused on the development of a non-medication treatment package for depression in Parkinson’s disease, designed to meet the specific needs of the patient and their families. During the study, patients may also interact with Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Parkinson’s experts Mathew Menza, MD, professor and interim chair of psychiatry, and Margery Mark, MD, associate professor of neurology.
Patients and caregivers who wish to learn more about the study may contact Dr. Karina Bienfait, at 732-235-4160, for more information.
Journalists who wish to interview Dr. Dobkin, please contact Jennifer Forbes at 732-235-6356.
About Robert Wood Johnson Medical School:
As one of the nation’s leading comprehensive medical schools, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery, and the promotion of community health. In cooperation with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the medical school’s principal affiliate, they comprise New Jersey’s premier academic medical center. In addition, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has 34 other hospital affiliates and ambulatory care sites throughout the region.
As one of the eight schools of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey with 2,500 full-time and volunteer faculty, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 22 basic science and clinical departments, hosts centers and institutes including The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine, the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey. The medical school maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels for more than 1,500 students on its campuses in New Brunswick, Piscataway, and Camden, and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs.