Can Stress Accelerate Progression of Parkinson’s Disease?

Can Stress Accelerate Progression of Parkinson’s Disease

Approximately 500,000 people in the United States have received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, but because of misdiagnosed or undiagnosed illness, numbers may be as high as one million.

Parkinson’s disease is a complex condition that usually affects those who are 60 or older, but it can also occur in younger people. The cause of this disease is the loss of nerve cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra, but some factors can accelerate the progression. One of these factors is stress.

How Stress Can Impact the Progression of Parkinson’s Disease

People who have Parkinson’s disease often notice that their symptoms worsen when they are under stress. Stress can impact most symptoms of the disease, including:

  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Involuntary movements
  • Depression
  • Feeling stuck in place (freezing of gait)
  • Slowness of movements

Of all of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, the one most affected by stress is tremors.

Stress can also worsen anxiety, which is a symptom most people with this condition battle. Because of the changes to the structures of the brain that Parkinson’s disease causes, chemical imbalances can occur that lead to feelings of anxiety.

Anxiety can fluctuate throughout the day, depending on dopamine levels, and stress makes this fluctuation worse.

People with Parkinson’s disease already have higher cortisol levels than others, leading scientists to believe that high stress levels throughout a lifetime can damage the brain and make it more likely to get the disease. In fact, there are studies being conducted that focus on blocking the stress receptors in the brain to help slow down the disease’s progression.

Living with Parkinson’s Disease: Managing Stress

Although medications for managing stress exist, they are not necessarily the best option for someone with Parkinson’s disease. One concern is that the symptoms that worsen with stress, like tremors, don’t respond well to medications meant to decrease stress levels.

What can work are stress management techniques. Exercise, for example, can help improve many of the non-motor symptoms that can worsen when under stress. A high-intensity workout can help reduce cortisol levels. For those who cannot exercise, there are other lifestyle changes you can make.

Give yourself plenty of time to finish tasks so you don’t feel like you need to rush. Try to maintain your sense of humor since laughter can reduce stress levels and provide a sense of well-being. Socialization is also crucial, especially with people who have a positive attitude.

Improving Your Life

By knowing the factors that can affect the progression of a disease like Parkinson’s, you can give yourself or a loved one a chance to improve your quality of life. Stress can be one of the most important factors, affecting symptoms and even causing the disease to get worse. Finding ways of managing stress can make all the difference.

This post was written by a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for hair, also Stem cell treatment for Parkinson’s. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.

Chuck Clark