Stress and Mindfulness in Parkinson’s Disease: Clinical Effects and Potential Underlying Mechanisms



Patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) are very vulnerable to the negative effects of psychological distress: neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, are highly prevalent in PD; motor symptoms (such as tremor) typically worsen in stressful situations; and dopaminergic medication is less effective. Furthermore, animal studies of PD suggest that chronic stress may accelerate disease progression. Adequate self‐management strategies are therefore essential to reduce the detrimental effects of chronic stress on PD. Mindfulness‐based interventions encourage individuals to independently self‐manage and adapt to the challenges created by their condition. In PD, emerging clinical evidence suggests that mindfulness‐based interventions may reduce psychological distress and improve clinical symptoms, but insight into the underlying mechanisms is lacking. In this viewpoint, we provide a systematic overview of existing mindfulness trials in PD. Furthermore, we discuss the cerebral mechanisms involved in acute and chronic stress, and the impact of mindfulness‐based interventions on these networks. In addition, we delineate a hypothetical mechanistic framework of how chronic stress may increase the susceptibility for neuropsychiatric symptoms in PD and may potentially even influence disease progression. We end with offering recommendations for future research. © 2020 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.


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