Stress and mindfulness in Parkinson’s disease – a survey in 5000 patients

From van der Heide, A., Speckens, A.E.M., Meinders, M.J. et al. Stress and mindfulness in Parkinson’s disease – a survey in 5000 patients. npj Parkinsons Dis.7, 7 (2021).

Many Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients notice that motor symptoms worsen during stress, and experience stress-related neuropsychiatric symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Here we investigated which personal and disease characteristics are associated with perceived stress in PD, which PD symptoms are sensitive to stress, and we assessed self-reported benefits of stress-reducing strategies such as mindfulness.

We conclude that PD patients experience greater levels of stress than controls, and that stress worsens both motor and non-motor symptoms. Mindfulness may improve PD symptom severity, with the strongest effects on anxiety and depressed mood. These findings justify further controlled studies to establish the merits of mindfulness and other stress-alleviating interventions.

Conclusion:, Findings show that stress is an important topic for PD patients, that it has a considerable and detrimental influence on quality of life and on symptom severity, but that it is also potentially amendable to interventions aimed at reducing stress. Specifically, the significant beneficial effects that patients experienced from self-management strategies such as mindfulness and physical exercise encourages future trials into the clinical effects and underlying mechanisms of these therapies. Based on our findings, we expect that

interventions will have particularly large effects on depression and anxiety in PD.

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