Mental health problems are common in people with Parkinson's and can have a huge impact on people's day to day lives. At the moment, many people with Parkinson's struggle to access mental health support when they need it.
When facing a diagnosis of Parkinson's, it's understandable to feel depressed or anxious. But depression and anxiety can be real clinical symptoms of Parkinson's just as tremors or slowness of movement are.
We're calling on the Government to make sure that people with Parkinson's can access the right support, at the right time. It's so important that people receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment for any mental health problems.
There are different reasons for this, including changes to the chemicals in the brain that are part of Parkinson's or coming to terms with a diagnosis and living with the condition.
It's important that people with Parkinson's receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment for any mental health problems. But too often this isn't happening.
A new parliamentary report (PDF, 4MB) has brought to light challenges people with Parkinson's face in accessing high quality care for anxiety and depression.
People with Parkinson's were found waiting months and in some cases years to access treatment. The care they received was often not tailored to their needs, and from professionals with little understanding of their condition.
There was a lack of research on effective treatments for anxiety and depression and a need for better guidance for health and care professionals treating people with Parkinson's.
It was clear that the physical and mental health symptoms of Parkinson's were being treated separately. It was felt by people with Parkinson’s and health professionals alike that a more joined up approach would be more effective.
Last year we conducted a survey across the UK to find out how mental health problems impact on the day to day lives of people with Parkinson's, as well as people's experiences of accessing mental health support.
The results revealed that three quarters of the people with Parkinson's that we surveyed felt that their mental health problems had an impact on their quality of life.
- Over 70% said they were less able to socialise.
- Over 50% felt their relationships with friends and family had changed for the worse.
- Nearly 50% found it harder to leave the house.
On top of this, around 65% of the people we surveyed were not confident that their mental health problems were being addressed by the NHS.
We'll be using these findings to call on decision makers to urgently improve the system.
Parkinson's UK is supporting the All Party Parliamentary Group on Parkinson’s to campaign for change for people with Parkinson's experiencing anxiety and depression. We will be helping to take forward the recommendations from their recent report on the issue.
You can read more about the report recommendations (PDF, 4MB).
We are calling on the government to fund more Parkinson's and mental health research. Ask your MP to encourage the health minister to increase research funding on Parkinson's and mental health.
Not enough is known about how to best treat anxiety and depression in people with Parkinson's.
With many people with the condition reporting that existing treatments are not working for them, it is vital that more effective treatment and support are developed for these symptoms.
Share your experience
You can also help us improve the system by sharing your experience, good or bad, of mental health support. We need examples of where things have worked well, and where the current system needs to improve for people with Parkinson’s.
Your personal stories will have a real impact, helping influence decision makers.
Download the full parliamentary report into mental health and Parkinson's
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