APDA American Parkinson Disease Association
Information & Referral Center

Depression in PD

NOTE: If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Depression is a very common symptom in Parkinson's Disease. Here are some reasons about depression.

Relevant Publications - Downloadable

“Depression: Overview and Its Role in Parkinson’s Disease”
Published by the Cleveland Clinic, October 6, 2015
About 7% of the US population has had at least one major depressive episode.  Among those with Parkinson’s disease the incidence is as high as 50%.   This page identifies six types of depression, their physical and emotional symptoms, and treatment options.


"Depression and Anxiety," by Annette Schrag MD, PhD
Published in two parts in APDA newsletter, Fall 2010 (page 1) and Winter 2011 (page 4)
The author notes that 30-40% of PD patients have significant depressive symptoms and anxiety affects up to 40% of PD patients.


"Depression and Parkinson's"
Published by Parkinson's UK, February 2014
This 12-page information sheet provides a mini self-evaluation to help determine if diagnosis by a professional should be pursued for depressive symptoms. Several self-help steps are described.


"Depression and Parkinson's Disease," by Brian D. Bell, PhD
Published by APDA, 2008
This four-page educational supplement reviews the prevalence of depression in PD along with why depression in PD can be difficult to diagnose.
En Espanol:  “La Depresion y la enfermedad de Parkinson”


“Depression, Anxiety and Apathy in Parkinson’s Disease: Essential Facts for Patients”
Published by the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), 2016
This 1-page fact sheet briefly explains how and why PD affects mood, including depression, anxiety and apathy.  It talks about how to identify mood symptoms and how they are diagnosed and treated.


Relevant Online Information

Published by Parkinson’s Foundation
Depression is common in Parkinson’s disease because of changes in areas of the brain involved in regulating mood, energy, motivation, appetite and sleep.  Depression may be a precursor to motor symptoms and may intensify both motor and cognitive symptoms.  This page outlines the psychological, biological and environmental factors that contribute to depression, symptoms, diagnostis, several treatment options, and tips for coping.


"Depression with Parkinson's Disease"
Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation
This webpage provides an overview to depression and anxiety. Includes three-minute video of neurologist Irene Richard, MD, speaking on symptoms and treatments. There are also two podcasts featuring Dr. Richard on how depression impacts PD patients and the new research on treating depression in PD.


“Depression in Parkinson’s Disease," by Melanie Brandabur, MD
Published by The Parkinson’s Institute. First published in PPSG Newsletter, Fall 2008
This 3-page article discusses the nuances of depression in Parkinson’s disease from adjusting to the initial diagnosis, to reduced involvement in previous activities, facial masking, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and apathy, that all contribute to the impression of a depressive state.  Failing a holistic approach, restoring the balance of brain chemicals may be the most effective therapy.


Relevant Online Lectures and Webinars

"Apathy or Depression: Which One Is It?"
By the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation), June 14, 2016
This 68-minute audio lecture with coordinated slide presentation features Dawn Bowers, Ph.D., speaking on the differences and overlapping aspects of apathy and depression; the difficulty in diagnosing for people with Parkinson’s disease and treatments for both.
Register to view the webinar
Slide presentation


“Ask the MD: Depression and Anxiety in Parkinson’s Disease”
By The Michael J. Fox Foundation, Foxfeed Blog, January 24, 2017
This 4:15-minute video is a summary of depression and anxiety symptoms in Parkinson’s disease by Dr. Rachel Dolhun.  She packs a lot of information into such a short time,  explaining precisely how both can be managed with medication, talk therapy and/or behavioral strategies, such as regular exercise and social activities.


"A Closer Look at Anxiety and Depression in Parkinson's Disease"
By the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (Now the Parkinson's Foundation), March 6, 2012
The presenter, a geriatric psychiatrist, notes that anxiety and depression can be under-recognized, yet common symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
Register to view the webinar
Slide presentation


“Depression and Anxiety in Parkinson’s Disease”
By the Michael J. Fox Foundation, June 16, 2016
This 1-hour audio with slides is an interview of a person with Parkinson’s disease, a psychiatrist, and a neuropsychiatrist.  Panelists discuss the causes of depression and anxiety in Parkinson’s disease, the symptoms, and how to treat and manage this aspect of life with the disease.


“Depression and PD: Treatment Options”
By the Parkinson’s Foundation, November 21, 2017
In this 1-hour Expert Briefing, Roseanne Dobkin, PhD, focuses on non-medication treatment options for depression in Parkinson’s disease.  Depression can increase anxiety and decrease motor function, thus reducing quality of life.
Register to view the webinar
Slide presentation


"Feeling Depressed or Anxious? It May Just be the Parkinson’s
By the Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation & Parkinson’s Resources of Oregon, Lunchtime Laboratory series, July 8, 2014
In this 50-minute audio lecture with slides, Jeff Shaw, Psy.D., distinguishes between anxiety, apathy, and depression, and acknowledging medications are useful, before focusing on awareness of normal psychological responses and strategies to cope for them.  [There are technical difficulties at the beginning with both audio and slide coordination.]

"Impact of Depressioin in Parkinson's Disease" 
By the Veteran's Administration
This 7-minute video alternates between an interview with a man sharing his challenges with Parkinson's disease and depression, and doctors explaining that depression is very common in Parkinson's disease. Doctors should screen for depression and refer to a psychiatrist for treatment before symptoms advance to the point of suicidal ideation. There are multiple treatment options for depression including cognitive behavior therapy and multiple medications.


Expert-Level Resources

"Quality of life and depression in Parkinson's disease," by Annette Schrag, MD, PhD. Journal of Neurological Sciences, 2006 October 25; 248(1-2):151-7. Abstract.


“Depression in Neurological Disorders:  Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Stroke," by Dr. Hugh Rickard. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 2005; 76:i48-i52.


This list last updated by Denise Dagan, December 2017. This list compiled by Robin Riddle for Stanford's Parkinson's Community Outreach Program, 2012.

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