A new study has shown that anxiety amplifies the physical signs of Parkinson’s disease, according to people who experience both conditions.
The study, believed to be the first to explore the lived experience of anxiety for people with Parkinson’s, also revealed that study participants did not see talking therapy as a useful solution, and more support was needed for people with the conditions, along with their carers and health professionals.
Led by the University of Plymouth and Glasgow Caledonian University, the research was published in the journal PLOS ONE and saw authors conduct in-depth interviews with six people living with Parkinson’s and anxiety. The study covered three male and three female participants, each at varying stages of Parkinson’s, and uncovered primary themes that:
• Anxiety amplifies their physical Parkinson’s symptoms
• Anxiety affects their cognition and freezes the thought process
• Anxiety was ‘always there’ and they were constantly trying to find ways to cope
Crucially, it highlighted how people’s experiences of anxiety varied significantly, and there needed to be a person-centred solution to help.
Lead author, Chris Lovegrove, will now use the findings to develop a new occupation-based complex intervention to help people with Parkinson's live well with anxiety. He has recently been awarded a Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship by Health Education England and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to pursue this.