Treatment for HD takes many forms. While current treatments do not alter the course of HD, medications can be effective in treating common symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Involuntary movements can also be lessened by medication. Some drugs have significant side effects, however, so it is important that these be explained by the physician before the treatment begins.
Some doctors may prescribe drug treatment when it is not absolutely necessary. In many cases, people with HD do better when medication is kept to a minimum. Often, drugs that are effective at one stage of the disease may not be effective at another.
For these reasons, it is preferable to locate a neurologist with expertise in HD. Not all neurologists are familiar with the disease. Though a family physician is not likely to have much experience with HD, that physician should remain involved in ongoing care and treatment. The person with HD and family members play a critical role in monitoring and assessing the effectiveness of any care and treatment.
It is also helpful to consult a physician or occupational therapist and a speech therapist so that strategies that can have a positive and lasting impact on the quality of life can be implemented early.
Nutrition is important in everyone’s life, but takes on added significance in HD. People with HD require an unusually high number of calories to maintain their body weight.
Maintaining, or even gaining, weight can help reduce involuntary movements and other symptoms, particularly in the later stages of HD. Nutritional supplements can help and a nutritionist can offer other valuable suggestions.
Often the best advice and emotional support one gets is from someone who “has been there”.
The mutual support given and the knowledge shared are the reasons that many find HD support groups to be an important part of their lives. Support groups are located in many countries.