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Mood and Behavior Changes (Psychiatric)

Depression & Anxiety

Depression can start well before any physical symptoms are noticed and can linger through the earlier stages of the disease. Depression can be at it’s worst a year or so before the physcial symptoms begin. 

What does depression look like: 

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day 
  • Tired and low energy  
  • Changes in sleep – either sleeping way more or much less 
  • Harder to find pleasure in the activies that used to be enjoyed 
  • Changes in appetite – eating much more or much less 
  • Harder to concentrate, focus, and make decisions 
  • Thought of death or suicide  

Why does depression occur? 

Feeling vulnerable to HD and the damage it will cause to relationships and future plans can leave a person feeling depressed. 

Depression is also a result of the HD brain not working properly.  

What to do? 

There are medical treatments to help with depression. Work with a medical doctor to find the right type of medicine. 

Keep a consistent schedule. Having structure in your life can help reduce depression. 

Talk openly about how you feel with a trusted friend or family member. 

Talk to a mental health counselor to learn how to adjust habits to help you feel better. 

Connect with other people experiencing HD through Meet-Ups and Support Groups. There are groups available for people who are at-risk, have HD and for care partners (even though HD doesn’t cause damage to your brain, caring for someone is hard stuff). 

Exercise. You’ve heard this your whole life that exercise will lift your mood and it’s true. 

Keep up your hobbies and stay active with friends and family. 

Thoughts of death and suicide can be part of depression. If you’re feeling suicidal, talk to a friend, family member, health care worker, HD Reach social worker, suicide prevention hotline.  If someone discusses suicide with you, listen to them carefully and let them share their feelings without judgement. Read more about preventing suicide.