Mood Changes

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board

Parkinson's disease (PD) can greatly impact a person's mood. At least half of people with PD experience depression. And up to 4 in 10 people with PD have an anxiety disorder.1

Depression and anxiety can develop because you are living with a chronic condition like PD. Also, mood changes can directly result from the brain and nerve changes that take place when you have Parkinson's disease.1,2

Some common mood changes linked with Parkinson's disease include:1,2

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling overwhelmed or stressed

Depression and Parkinson’s disease

It is a normal human experience to be sad from time to time. You and your family may have grieved your PD diagnosis. But depression is different. Sadness is temporary. In contrast, depression lasts for weeks or longer.1

Up to half of all people with Parkinson's disease experience depression at some point. Dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are chemicals that help regulate your mood, motivation, energy, and sleep. In PD, heavily damaged brain areas affect how these chemicals are made. The results include changes in mood and depression.1

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Mood changes can also directly result from the physical changes caused by Parkinson's disease, such as movement problems or fatigue. Drugs used to treat PD can also lead to mood changes.1

Depression has a lot of different symptoms, and not everyone experiences all of them. Symptoms of depression can differ in intensity. They can also change over time. Common symptoms of depression include:1

  • Feeling sad or hopeless most of the time
  • Crying more than usual
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Losing interest in things you once enjoyed
  • Problems with concentration and focus
  • Feeling tired all the time, even after getting enough sleep
  • Changes in your weight or appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings


Anxiety is feeling worried, tense, or fearful about something that may happen in the future. It can be a normal stress response. But for people with PD, it can also be a non-motor symptom of the disease.1,2

Like depression, anxiety can be caused by changes in the brain resulting from PD. Additionally, anxiety can be a reaction to the challenges of living with a chronic condition. For example, people with PD may worry about their ability to do everyday tasks or take care of themselves. They may also feel anxious about the future, worrying about things like finances or becoming ill.1,2

Some common symptoms of anxiety include:3

  • Feeling restless or jumpy
  • Feeling tense
  • Having a hard time relaxing
  • Feeling like your mind is racing
  • Excessive worrying
  • Physical symptoms, like increased heart rate or sweating

Challenges of mood disorders in PD

Mood disorders can be challenging to diagnose in people with PD for a few reasons. First, many of the symptoms of depression and anxiety, such as fatigue, restlessness, and irritability, are also common PD symptoms. Also, since mood disorders can be related to the physical changes caused by PD, they can be hard to distinguish from the symptoms of the disease.1

Finally, some people with PD may be reluctant to talk about their moods or feelings, especially if they feel ashamed or embarrassed about them. They may also feel like their mood disorder is just a part of having PD and cannot be treated.1

It is crucial to seek help if you are experiencing mood changes because they can signify a more serious problem. Treatment for mood disorders can involve therapy, medication, or both.1,2


Treating mood disorders in PD begins with talking to your doctor. If you have mood problems, you may find it hard to talk about them with your care team. But mental health is just as important as your physical health. Your doctor can help you find what might work best for you.1,2

Treating depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders often takes different therapies. Some of these options include:1,2

If you or a loved one is in crisis, please contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). Call or text 9-8-8 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or use the Lifeline online chat.4