Anxiety: A Silent Symptom of Parkinson’s Disease

Samantha Felder avatar

by Samantha Felder |

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Anxiety is the secret poison of Parkinson’s disease. While it is not a symptom many people associate with the condition, many of us still suffer from it.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety involves feelings of worry, nervousness, and unease, typically when the outcome of an event is uncertain. We all feel anxious from time to time, but it generally goes away once the situation has passed. But for those of us who suffer from anxiety disorders related to Parkinson’s, those feelings don’t go away.

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, anxiety is not simply a reaction to being diagnosed, though this can be a stressful event. Rather, it is a common symptom of Parkinson’s that can be caused by either psychological or biological factors, such as changes in brain chemistry.

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Anxiety May Be Unique for Each Patient

Anxiety can result in a sense of dread, constant worrying, and difficulty concentrating. Many people also suffer from physical symptoms such as dizziness, sweating, and nausea. Each person’s experiences may vary.

There are days when I am pushed to my limits and the smallest things set me off. I tend to scream, often at the top of my lungs, and stomp away. I usually have no control over these emotions.

Treating anxiety

There are many different techniques that doctors can use to help patients with anxiety. Some of these are simple activities we can do in our everyday lives at home.

First, as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said, “R-E-L-A-X.”

Find ways to let your emotions go and focus on something mindless that makes you happy. This could include reading a book, drawing a portrait, or singing. Whatever takes you to your happy place. I walk to the pond down the street from my house with my music cranked and dance as I go.

Doctors may recommend patients do certain activities instead of, or in addition to, taking anxiety medications. According to Parkinson’s News Today, physical activity offers numerous benefits for Parkinson’s patients, including reduced depression, stress, and anxiety. Activities could include exercise, acupuncture, or tai chi, though not every activity is suitable for every patient.

The best thing I have done for myself in terms of my Parkinson’s is seeing a therapist. I am able to talk about whatever is going on in my life. What’s important is that they’re an objective party, so they can look at situations objectively and give me their honest opinion.

If one method doesn’t work for you, try another. Don’t give up. Try again and find what works for you. Keep living your life and reaching to “Embrace the Shake.”

Do you experience anxiety? What has helped you cope? Please share in the comments below.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.


Maria avatar


Anxiety is my worst symptom it’s worse than even the shakiness and leg weakness .My doctor prescribed Ativan and it seems to help calm me down. I am worse since my husband passed away a week ago and I can’t seem to get a handle on my life .

Caroline Harris avatar

Caroline Harris

Yes - very disconcerting and discouraged as another challenge of PD
Medications aren’t helping much
I feel like my personality has changed; I don’t even recognize who I am anymore,

Christopher Scott Wyman avatar

Christopher Scott Wyman

I have Dept with Parkinson’s for years. I knew I had it 10 years ago and did anything I could to hide it from my closest family and friends. I am also a combat Veteran from Desert Storm. My advice is to never ever give up!! It took me years to get a Confirmed diagnosis and the right medication and activity advice to keep it down.

Sharon Giambatista avatar

Sharon Giambatista

Hello All-I have had PD at least 12 years. I’m grateful that it’s been slow progression!
I try to tell those recently diagnosed that at first I had disparing anxiety, esp on off-times. One day I realized that when the meds kicked in, it was nearly gone. I point out that if you can keep the mindset that this is temporary and not really YOU, it will pass. It’s gonna be ok-just get thru it!

Carol Froberg avatar

Carol Froberg

Anxiety is the worst thing about Parkinson's. Going to Doctor.

Kathleen L. Karafonda avatar

Kathleen L. Karafonda

But of course, with such a significant loss, your anxiety may be drastically increased. Depending on the adjustments your life will force you to take, it may take months to maintain a minimum of calm and security. No one would expect otherwise, that is, no one who has been through this. Be kind to and patient with yourself.
The holidays are especially difficult for many of us in your situation. Feel your feelings and look forward to spring.


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