Parkinson's and mental health
You may experience a range of mental health issues alongside your physical Parkinson's symptoms.
These can range from depression and anxiety to hallucinations, memory problems and dementia.
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health symptoms that affect people with Parkinson's. Nearly half of all people with Parkinson's have experienced one of these issues.
They can be triggered by the stress of receiving a diagnosis like Parkinson's. But they can also be triggered by physical changes in the brain caused by the condition itself.
Anxiety is an ongoing feeling of unease, worry or fear. It is often a natural reaction to situations you find threatening or difficult. It usually disappears when the situation changes, or if you get used to the situation or can move away from it.
But some people become anxious for long periods of time and for no clear reason. This can make life difficult and may affect their work and social life.
Depression is usually diagnosed when someone has feelings of extreme sadness or a sense of emotional 'emptiness' for a long time. It's more than a temporary feeling of sadness, unhappiness or frustration. These feelings may affect your ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
Managing mental health and Parkinson's
Gary shares his experience of living with anxiety and Parkinson's, and shares his top tips for managing mental health symptoms.
Look after your mental health
Get support for your mental health
Get support now
You can call our free and confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303.
It's open Monday-Friday 9am-7pm and Saturday 10am-2pm. Our trained advisers can provide support to anyone affected by Parkinson's.
You can also contact the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393, which is open 9am-6pm, from Monday to Friday.
If you need to talk to someone outside of these hours, Samaritans are free to call 24/7 on 116 213.
Talk to others in your situation
There are lots of places where you can connect with people who may be experiencing similar issues to you.
You can also talk to people on our online forum. The community welcomes anyone affected by Parkinson's. It’s a great place to share information and have a chat - all you need is an email address.
We also have local support groups across the country, including groups specifically for younger people. Local groups are a great way to meet other people with Parkinson's in your area, find out more about the condition and get support in a friendly and welcoming environment.
Mental health and the physical symptoms of Parkinson's
People with Parkinson's regularly tell us that they feel their mental health issues make their physical symptoms of Parkinson's worse, and recent research has proven this. That's why it's important to talk to your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse about all of your Parkinson's symptoms, whether physical or mental.
Anxiety can sometimes occur during the periods between taking your medication. If your last dose is wearing off and you feel your physical or non-physical symptoms are not in control, it can be stressful.
Speak to your GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse if this applies to you. They may be able to change your medication to help with this.
Even if you don't have 'on' and 'off' periods between doses, you may still have generalised anxiety if your physical Parkinson's symptoms aren't properly treated. Again, changes to your medication may help.
Support for family and friends
It's important for family, friends and carers to recognise that the mood of someone with Parkinson's can negatively affect their own emotions.
Because of this, you should try to look after your own physical and mental health as much as you can. This can be difficult, but it's important to remember that by taking care of yourself, you will be better able to support the person with Parkinson's.
Many carers find it helpful to join a group, where they can meet other people in a similar situation. Some Parkinson's UK local groups have special activities for carers. There’s also our online forum, which allows you to chat from home and has a dedicated section for carers, friends and family.
Improving mental health services for people with Parkinson’s
Download the full parliamentary report into mental health and Parkinson's.