Apathy is an early symptom

As you can see, I’m anything but apathetic about apathy. See earlier posts about apathy: here, here, and here.

I had a really interesting email from a chap who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about a year ago. He had read my recent posts on apathy and he then considered the years leading up to his diagnosis. He had first noticed losing his usual motivation levels some twenty five years earlier. He recalls frustrating discussions with his doctor about it. He couldn’t understand why he was unable to get excited about things any more. He definitely didn’t like it. Life with waning excitement was not what he had intended.

He started using a Well Red Coronet last year first once daily and now twice daily. He commented that he now feels a lot better overall with more enthusiasm. He has taken up a new and demanding hobby and has restarted old interests. He is no longer being trapped by apathy.

His experience is not unusual.

Recent research has shown that some twenty percent of people first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease already have the debilitating symptom of apathy. That’s one fifth of people with Parkinson’s.

If you didn’t have apathy at diagnosis, you are still at risk. A community prevalence study estimated around 38% of the study group had apathy. Some had apathy on its own, some had it with depression and others with dementia. Apathy has some very nasty playmates.

Daily transcranial red and near infrared lights do have an effect on people with apathy. And it does last – two of my mates who have been using transcranial light devices for well over three years (first an Eliza and now the Coronet) continue to be apathy-free. Before transcranial red and near-infrared lights, both had been bogged down with the impact of apathy.

There is no other potential treatment out there for apathy in Parkinson’s. Even if you are sceptical about lights, you have nothing to lose by trying them. And you can make a light hat at home.


1. Dujardin K, Langlois C, Plomhause L, et al. Apathy in untreated early-stage Parkinson disease: Relationship with other non-motor symptoms. Movement Disorders. 2014;29(14):1796-1801. doi:10.1002/mds.26058

2. Pedersen KF, Larsen JP, Alves G, Aarsland D. Prevalence and clinical correlates of apathy in Parkinson’s disease: A community-based study. Parkinsonism & Related Disorders. 2009;15(4):295-299. doi:10.1016/j.parkreldis.2008.07.006

Author: RedlightsontheBrain

Redlightsonthebrain is written by Catherine Hamilton, a retired doctor on behalf of Light Ahead Inc, a Tasmanian-based not-for-profit organisation. Light Ahead Inc aims to help people to learn about neurogenerative diseases and the practical, safe and scientifically-based things that may be able to help. Part of this is to provide low-cost access to red light devices, hence the DIY instructions on this blog. All sales of the Coronet red light device support the work of Light Ahead Inc.

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