an image of an iceberg that is a metaphor for parkinson's disease and mental health

“I Wish Others Could Understand” – Parkinson’s and Mental Health

Parkinson’s disease (PD) can be life-altering. Beyond the well-known symptoms, the progression of the condition, cognitive changes, and the strain it places on relationships can have a major effect on mental well-being. In our Parkinson’s Disease In America Survey, 1,169 people living with the condition shared more about the relationship between Parkinson’s and mental health.

Parkinson’s and mental well-being

The impact on mental and cognitive health is real. Parkinson’s cognitive changes, depression, and anxiety can disrupt social life, careers, hobbies, and interests. They can uproot our sense of identity and how we relate to others. If you experience any of these symptoms, you are not alone. While they can feel isolating at times, people with Parkinson’s understand the mental toll.

60% of respondents report cognitive changes. 50% of respondents report depression and/or anxiety.

Impact on quality of life

Parkinson’s disease can be quite unpredictable. From the speed of progression to the symptoms experienced, PD affects everyone differently. The uncertainty of this condition, paired with the fact that there is no cure at this time, can lead to a major impact on quality of life. Parkinson’s can bring on new worries, fears, and anxieties – and that is completely understandable.

41% of respondents say Parkinson's adds anxiety to daily life. 49% often worry about Parkinson's progression.

More than a movement disorder

Our community often shares how there is so much more to Parkinson’s than tremor. Though many people respond well to treatment, medicine cannot slow the progression of Parkinson’s. Even when symptoms appear to be well controlled, those worries and fears of the future can be ever present. Survey respondents want others to know to be patient, because there is more than meets the eye with Parkinson’s.

Quote from respondent indicating that tremors are just the tip of the iceberg with Parkinson's disease.

Bringing awareness

If Parkinson’s anxiety, depression, or cognitive changes are impacting your quality of life, there is support. Talking about the prevalence of mental health symptoms brings awareness to this experience. People with Parkinson’s are coping with much more than movement symptoms. Discussing and normalizing these aspects of PD can provide a sense of control and empower people to find the support they need.

Quote from respondent emphasizing the mental impact of Parkinson's. They wish others could understand it's more than just the physical aspects.

The 2022 Parkinson’s Disease In America Survey was conducted online from May 2022 through June 2022. The survey was completed by 1,169 people.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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