NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — When you think of Parkinson’s disease, you may think of the motor issues like shaking that some patients have. Now, some Yale researchers are working with the Michael J. Fox Foundation to treat another big symptom: depression.

“About half the people with Parkinson’s disease suffer from depression. It significantly affects quality of life and can accelerate disease progression as well,” said Sophie Holmes, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale.

The trial is using ketamine, an anesthetic to treat those patients, comparing brain scans before and after.

“This drug is actually a drug that looks like it’s working by modifying the way the cells in the brain are actually communicating with each other, allowing them to become more adaptive,” said Dr. Gerard Sanacora, Director of the Yale Depression Research Program.

They are enrolling people with Parkinson’s disease in early progression.

Holmes said people are now realizing that depression is a symptom of Parkinson’s.

“This is really the first study that is looking at a new intervention which I think should draw up the discovery of hopefully a new generation of antidepressants for depression in Parkinson’s disease,” Holmes said.

Sanacora said other studies have focused just on the motor issues of Parkinson’s and not the devastating mood symptoms.

“We’ve seen the benefits of ketamine and ketamine-like treatments in patients with major depressive disorder. In many cases, it’s really been life saving,” Sanacora said.

If you would like more information on the study, email ketaminepd@yale.edu or call (475) 287-9521.