Parkinson’s: severe anxiety could link to cognitive decline

A recent study reveals that people who experience more anxiety in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease are less likely to stay physically active, which ultimately impacts their cognitive abilities.

Anxiety symptoms of people with Parkinson’s tend to overlap with their signs of the disease itself, such as difficulty concentrating, plus encountering dizziness and tremors. Therefore, it is harder to get an accurate diagnosis of this mental health issue.

People with Parkinson’s also experience a higher risk of cognitive decline compared to the general population. Some studies have related more severe anxiety to this cognitive decline, but not all studies support this theory, meaning it is still unclear how each condition may influence another.

One factor that researchers believe might link anxiety to Parkinson’s is physical activity. Reason being, it is proven that its anti-anxiety effects relate to cognitive activity and dopamine availability.

Researchers from California State University at San Bernardino investigated the possible correlation between physical activity, anxiety and cognitive decline by tracking these factors over five years in 487 people, newly diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

Participants that became more anxious over the study experienced cognitive decline and performed worse on cognitive tests. Also, these people became less active at home.

Those with more severe anxiety encountered a more severe cognitive decline and did less leisure and household activities.

From these findings, the researches stated that “decreased participation in physical activities, particularly inactivity within the household may play a role in anxiety and cognitive impairment.

“Future studies are needed to determine the clinical utility of interventions promoting routine physical activity.”

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