Batten disease refers to a group of conditions that are all caused by an excessive amount of a lipid pigment known as lipofuscin accumulating inside cells. There are fourteen 14 mutated genes that have been documented to lead to the different types of Batten disease.
Brain cells are particularly sensitive to lipofuscin accumulation. That is why all patients with Batten disease develop neurological symptoms, including motor, cognitive, and behavioral impairments, as well as seizures and blindness.
Patients with Batten disease also may develop mood changes such as anxiety and depression. These mood changes may be amplified as the patient becomes more distressed and frustrated as the disease progresses and other symptoms develop.
Symptoms of anxiety and depression
Patients with anxiety may constantly feel tense and have recurring intrusive thoughts. They may avoid situations out of worry. Physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, trembling, and dizziness may occur.
People with depression often experience more than just sadness. They may lose weight and appetite, as well as interest in things they once enjoyed. A lack of energy, sudden bouts of crying, insomnia, low self-esteem, poor concentration, and thoughts of death may emerge.
In Batten disease, these symptoms often occur before the development of motor dysfunction and appear to affect all patients irrespective of the type of Batten disease they have. It is important to be observant of these symptoms, as they may be subtle and easily missed, especially in children who may not know how to express their feelings.
Coping with anxiety and depression
There are many ways to ease feelings of anxiety and depression. Patients who are having difficulty coping with these symptoms may benefit from seeing a physician, who may prescribe medications. Benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Celexa (citalopram) are commonly used to treat depression.
Taking part in psychotherapy sessions also may help patients work through their issues in a structured manner.
Besides the patient, anxiety and depression also may affect close family members and friends because of the emotional and physical strains that come with being a caregiver. Being a part of a support group allows patients, their families, and caregivers to obtain accurate medical information, as well as emotional and physical support.
Batten Disease 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.