Anxiety disturbances are recognized as common psychiatric comorbidities in Parkinson's disease (PD) and contribute to significant impairments in areas of cognitive, functional, motor and social performance. Anxiety in PD results in reduced quality of life, higher levels of care dependency and increased caregiver burden. Surprisingly, there is a paucity of treatment data. In one randomized, controlled study, bromazepam was found to be effective for anxiety in PD. However, usage of benzodiazepines in the PD population is limited by potential risk of confusion and falls. There are no controlled studies of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for anxiety in PD. However, results from uncontrolled studies suggest that SSRIs are effective for anxiety in PD, although in these studies anxiety outcomes were secondary. This review underscores that, given the high prevalence of anxiety disturbances in PD, there is a significant paucity of treatment data for this population. Additional studies are warranted. In the meantime, clinicians should rely on empiric assessments of known risks and putative benefits to guide treatment decisions. Cognitive and behavioral therapies (with or without pharmacotherapy) have demonstrated efficacy and warrant consideration. When feasible, a targeted and individualized multimodal approach utilizing psychotherapeutic interventions along with pharmacologic therapies should be considered.
Keywords: Anxiety; Parkinson’s disease; neurology; psychiatry.