Parkinson’s disease: Understanding the psychological impacts

As a condition characterised by its impact on motor function, it is easy to overlook the deep- psychological problems Parkinson’s disease can bring with it.

While the physical symptoms are the most apparent indicators of the disease, the psychological impact often remains hidden, yet profoundly affects individuals’ lives.

Unpacking the psychological difficulties

To comprehend Parkinson’s disease’s psychological impact fully, it is important to understand the intricacies of emotional well-being, cognitive function, and the lived experiences of individuals living with the disease.


Depression is one of the most common psychological symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

It is thought that approximately 40 per cent of people with Parkinson’s disease experience depressive symptoms, a figure significantly higher than in the general population.

This can manifest in a consistently low mood, difficulty finding pleasure in previously enjoyable activities, and a reduced ability to concentrate or make decisions.


Anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety, are frequently reported by individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

The unpredictability of symptoms can be a common place for anxiety to emerge, as individuals may constantly anticipate the next flare-up of symptoms.

Cognitive impairment

Parkinson’s disease can affect cognitive function, resulting in challenges such as slow thinking (bradyphrenia), memory difficulties, and problems with attention and executive function.

These cognitive impairments can complicate other psychological difficulties, making it challenging for individuals to manage their emotions effectively.

Addressing the psychological impact

Understanding the psychological impact of Parkinson’s disease is the first step in moving towards effective management and potentially alleviating some of the psychological symptoms.

Therapeutic interventions

Interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) have shown promise in helping individuals manage symptoms of depression and anxiety associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Developing coping strategies through therapy can be a vital resource in maintaining a higher quality of life.


Medication can sometimes be beneficial in managing the psychological symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

However, it is essential to approach this option with caution, considering potential side effects and interactions with other medications being taken for motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Support groups

Support groups provide a platform where individuals can share their experiences, learn from others who have walked a similar path, and feel a sense of community and understanding.

Through sharing, individuals can find solace and camaraderie, helping to alleviate feelings of isolation.

Our holistic approach to care means that we recognise the importance of mental health when dealing with physical health conditions, and so we tailor our care plans accordingly.

If you would like support for somebody diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, please contact us today.

Posted in Parkinson's Disease.