A meta-analysis of randomised placebo-controlled treatment trials for depression and anxiety in Parkinson's disease

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 13;8(11):e79510. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079510. eCollection 2013.


Background: Psychopharmacotherapy currently constitutes the first-line treatment for depression and anxiety in Parkinson's disease (PD) however the efficacy of antidepressant treatments in PD is unclear. Several alternative treatments have been suggested as potentially more viable alternatives including dopamine agonists, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Method: A meta-analysis of randomised placebo-controlled trials for depression and/or anxiety in PD was conducted to systematically examine the efficacy of current treatments for depression and anxiety in PD.

Results: Nine trials were included. There was only sufficient data to calculate a pooled effect for antidepressant therapies. The pooled effect of antidepressants for depression in PD was moderate but non-significant (d = .71, 95% CI = -1.33 to 3.08). The secondary effect of antidepressants on anxiety in PD was large but also non-significant (d = 1.13, 95% CI = -.67 to 2.94). Two single-trials of non-pharmacological treatments for depression in PD resulted in significant large effects; Omega-3 supplementation (d = .92, 95% CI = .15 to 1.69) and CBT (d = 1.57, 95% CI = 1.06 to 2.07), and warrant further exploration.

Conclusions: There remains a lack of controlled trials for both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for depression and anxiety in PD which limits the conclusions which can be drawn. While the pooled effects of antidepressant therapies in PD were non-significant, the moderate to large magnitude of each pooled effect is promising. Non-pharmacological approaches show potential for depression in PD however more research is required.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / complications*
  • Psychotherapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.