Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis (PDP)
Around 50% of people with Parkinson’s Disease may experience hallucinations and/or delusions over the course of their disease.
Parkinson’s disease psychosis is a progressive condition, which may add to the burden of Parkinson’s. Hallucinations (seeing, hearing or experiencing things that others don’t) and delusions (believing things that aren’t true) are non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Together they are known as Parkinson’s disease psychosis. Around half of people living with Parkinson’s may experience hallucinations and/or delusions over the course of their disease.
Currently, there is no clear understanding of the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease-related hallucinations and delusions, nor which patients will develop them. However, certain brain chemicals and receptors (e.g., dopamine and serotonin) are believed to play a role.
Hallucinations and delusions can be triggered by natural changes in the brain as Parkinson’s progresses.
Hallucinations and delusions may be a side effect of common Parkinson’s medications (“dopaminergic therapies”).
There’s no way to accurately predict which people with Parkinson’s will go on to develop hallucinations and delusions. A number of risk factors are associated with the condition. Some of these risk factors include: age, disease duration and severity of Parkinson’s.
In describing these symptoms, people may use such common terms as:
- Seeing things that others don’t – such as people, animals or objects
- Hearing things that others don’t – such as hearing sounds music, or voices
- Paranoia – such as believing people are talking about you or trying to access your money
- False beliefs – such as fears of loved ones stealing from you, putting you in harm’s way or being unfaithful
Support for Patients
We want people to understand that PDP is part of Parkinson’s, and there’s something you can do about it.
Many patients with PDP do not talk to their healthcare professional about their non-motor symptoms. But raising awareness is a crucial part of helping patients better navigate their disease and find the right treatment. Watch Renee, wife of Michael, who lives with PDP, share their experiences and the importance of speaking up about PDP.
It is common for people living with Parkinson’s disease-related hallucinations and delusions to remain silent about their symptoms and not report them to a healthcare provider. Work continues to be done to raise awareness of this condition.
if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions, speak to your healthcare provider. It is essential to talk about your full range of Parkinson’s disease symptoms with your treatment team. A dialogue among patients, caregivers and physicians is a critical component of the effective management of your condition.