Depression in PD

Depression is a very common non-motor symptom of Parkinson's Disease (PD).  It is often overlooked and undertreated.  Here are some resources to help understand depression, when to get screened, and how to manage it.

NOTE: If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALk (8255) or visit

Downloadable Documents | Online Articles | Podcasts & Webinars | Expert-level Resources

Downloadable Documents (PDF)

Combatting Depression and Parkinson’s Disease

Published by the Parkinson’s Foundation, 2019

This 2-page fact sheet (PDF) distinguishes between sadness and depression, lists 10 signs of depression in PD, explains causes and treatment options of depression for those with PD.  Those with PD should have annual screening for depression, discuss all mood changes with their healthcare team, and bring a family member to doctor appointments to discuss mood changes.

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 (PDF, page 1) and Winter 2011 (PDF, 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, December 2017

This 11-page information sheet (PDF) 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 the American Parkinson Disease Association, 2008

This four-page educational supplement (PDF) reviews the prevalence of depression in PD along with why depression in PD can be difficult to diagnose.  
En Español:  La Depresión y la enfermedad de Parkinson

Depression and Parkinson's Disease

Published by the American Parkinson Disease Association, 2022

This two-page fact sheet (PDF) reviews the prevalence of depression among those with PD, symptoms of depression, and treatment options, including non-pharmacological, prescription, and electro-convulsive therapy.  Finally, there is information about managing existing medications with depression and a reminder to also treat anxiety, which often coexists with depression in PD. 
En Español:  La Depresión y la enfermedad de Parkinson

Depression and PD: A Non-Drug Treatment Option

Published by the Parkinson’s Foundation, 2019

This 2-page fact sheet (PDF) explains and recommends cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to manage Parkinson’s-related depression.  Set goals for daily activities with a focus on exercise, socialization and positive emotional self care.  Recognize negative thoughts and implement strategies to minimize them.  Work with your care partner to reinforce positive behaviors and implement healthy habits.

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 (PDF) 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.

Online Articles

How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Can Help You Live Well with Parkinson's

By Roseanne D. Dobkin, PhD.  Published by the Davis Phinney Foundation, August 4, 2021

This article explains what cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is and some tools you can learn through CBT to cope with depression and anxiety symptoms of Parkinson's.  It includes self-assessment questions to determine if your mood is as good as you would like it to be.


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 and Anxiety

Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation

This webpage explains that depression and anxiety are symptoms of PD. Mood changes impact quality of life and how treatments work. Help comes in many forms, including support groups and medications. Lastly, what researchers know and what they are studying about depression and anxiety in PD is summarized.

Helping Parkinson’s Patients with Depression

By James Beck, PhD.  Published by Psychology Today, April 5, 2018

Due to changes that Parkinson’s causes in the chemistry of the brain, depression is a common side effect.  Even though at least half of those with PD suffer with depression, most go undiagnosed or are under-treated.  This short article explains the physiological and psychological factors that contribute to depression, the most common symptoms and numerous treatment options.

Podcasts & 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.
Presenter's slides

Ask the MD: Depression and Anxiety in Parkinson’s Disease

By The Michael J. Fox Foundation, Foxfeed Blog, January 24, 2017

This 4-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.

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.

Dementia and Later-Onset Parkinson's

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, August 23, 2021

In this webinar Rodolfo Savica, MD, PhD, from the Mayo Clinic discusses what dementia is and how it may or may not occur in people with Parkinson’s, the potential causes of dementia, how to treat dementia, and preventative measures.  You can also download the audio only or transcript from this page.

Depression and Parkinson’s Disease

By the Parkinson's Society of British Columbia, May 12, 2020

In this one-hour webinar psychiatrist Fidel Vila-Rodriguez, MD, discusses the symptoms and treatment options for depression as well as the state of research into depression and PD, briefly touching on experimental forms of neurostimulation to address depression.  
Webinar notes on the Stanford PD Community Blog

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.  
Presenter's slides

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, PsyD, 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.]

Fight Back Against Depression and Anxiety in Parkinson's

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, June 14, 2016

In this 30-minute video, a panel of experts define what depression and anxiety are, discuss a wide variety of symptoms that can indicate presence of one or both conditions and offer a range of coping strageties.

Impact of Depression in Parkinson's Disease

By the Veteran's Administration, February 21, 2013

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.

Mental Health and Parkinson's

By Parkinson Society British Columbia, March 30, 2021

In this 1-hour talk, clinical counselor Courtney Doherty describes depression, anxiety, and apathy -- all common changes in mood in Parkinson’s disease (PD).  And she provides extensive information for how these changes can be treated, particularly in non-pharmacological ways.


Moving with Mood Changes in Aging and Parkinson’s:  A Look at Depression and Anxiety

By the Michael J. Fox Foundation, June 2020

In this one-hour webinar a panel of physicians and people with PD that include a psychiatrist, neurologist, and a music producer discuss how and why mood changes, such as depression and anxiety, happen in Parkinson’s, how you and your loved ones can talk about these symptoms with each other and with your providers, and what treatment options are available.

Webinar Notes on the Stanford PD Community Blog

Thriving with PD

By PMD Alliance, August 23, 2021

In this 50-minute Wholistic episode moderator Indu Subramanian talks with movement disorders and palliative care specialist, Dr. Janis Miyasaki, about the difference between depression and demoralization and how to meet the spiritual needs of people with Parkinson's.

Understanding the Emotionality of Parkinson's

By PMD Alliance, August 2, 2021

Movement disorders specialist Mindy Bixby speaks for about 35-minutes on the mechanisms that contribute to mood changes in PD, then answers questions.  Her focus goes beyond anxiety and depression to include behavior changes.  She offers both pharmaceutical and natural ways to counter these changes.

Expert-Level Resources

Quality of life and depression in Parkinson's disease

By Annette Schrag, MD, PhD.  Published in the Journal of Neurological Sciences, 2006 October 25; 248(1-2):151-7. 

Abstract available on the NIH web site.

Depression in Neurological Disorders: Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Stroke

By Dr. Hugh Rickard.  Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 2005; 76:i48-i52.

Last updated August 2022 by Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach.