Anxiety and Parkinson’s Disease

Mood changes especially anxiety and depression are often a symptom of Parkinson’s disease. According to National Parkinson’s Foundation, it is estimated that at least 50% of people with PD experience a mood disturbance at some point during their illness.

Anxiety is a natural reaction to situations we find threatening or difficult. It is a feeling of unease, worry or fear. People with anxiety may experience some of the following symptoms:

  1. Constant worry
  2. A sense of dread
  3. Difficulty concentrating
  4. Physical symptoms e.g. feeling breathless, dizziness, trembling, restlessness.

These feelings may affect a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities. Recognizing the symptoms of anxiety early ensures that treatment is done as soon as possible.

Anxiety in Parkinson’s may be caused by biological factors such as changes in brain chemicals which control and regulate your mood. It may also be caused by psychological factors e.g fear of inability to function normally or fear of being embarrassed in public.

The main types of anxiety include:

  1. Generalized anxiety disorder- This is characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worrying most of the time about everyday events in your life.
  2. Panic attacks – These are short periods of sudden, intense feelings of fear. These attacks usually start suddenly with a sense of severe physical and emotional distress.
  3. Social avoidance – Involves avoiding social situations because of fear of showing your Parkinson’s symptoms e.g. tremor, freezing.
  4. Phobia – This is feeling frightened of something that is generally not considered dangerous and is not scary to other people.

In most cases, anxiety can be treated. You may also consider easy ways to manage anxiety symptoms e.g. exercise, diet, massage, listening to relaxing music and talking to someone about the feelings of anxiety.

Author avatar
Hellen Mwithiga

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