Monday, April 15, 2024

Treatment For Hallucinations In Parkinson’s Disease

New Drug Shows Promise In Treating Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis

Hallucinations and Parkinson’s with Dr. Friedman

Off-label drugs have been used to manage psychotic-related symptoms in Parkinson’s disease patients, but they worsen motor symptoms by reducing dopamine levels. Nuplazid is the only FDA-approved drug that treats Parkinson’s disease psychosis without impairing motor function.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative condition marked by bradykinesia, rigidity, tremor, and postural instability. While therapeutic advances have been made to improve motor-related symptoms, many older adults affected by this disease also develop Parkinson’s disease psychosis . Psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions develop in more than 50% of PD patients and can lead to severe impairments in cognitive, behavioral, and emotional function.1

PDP Drives Nursing Home Placement According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, 1 million people have been diagnosed with PD in the United States, and between 7 million and 10 million people worldwide have the condition. Hallucinations and delusions drive the nursing home placement and hospitalization of patients diagnosed with PDP, says Jason Kellogg, MD, chief of staff at Newport Bay Hospital in Newport Beach, California.

He adds that the delusions and hallucinations observed in PDP tend to be more dramatic in nature. For instance, these patients are usually high-functioning, well-dressed men and women. But their hallucinations are quite striking because they have delusions of persecution and visual hallucinations.

What Makes Some People With Parkinsons More Susceptible To Parkinsons Disease Psychosis

Not everyone living with Parkinsons will experience hallucinations and/or delusions, but there are several things that can increase your risk. Here are a few to look out for. Be sure to speak to your doctors and care partners if you notice any changes.

  • Increased sleep disturbances such as REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, sleep apnea, vivid dreaming and sleep interruptions
  • Vision problems such as blurry or double vision
  • Hearing problems
  • Aging
  • Medication changes such as new medication, dosage changes and drug interactions
  • Disease progression

Predictive Factors And Pathophysiology

Minor hallucinations/illusions

Patients with isolated minor hallucinations/illusions differed from patients without hallucinations only by the presence of more depressive symptoms on the CES-D rating scale, suggesting that depressive symptoms are a facilitating factor. Indeed, depression may sometimes trigger or aggravate hallucinations associated with deafness or ocular pathology . However, when we analysed depression according to CES-D cut-off scores, the difference between the Parkinson’s disease patients with minor hallucinations/illusions and those with no hallucinations was not significant. Interestingly, hallucinations involving the deceased spouse have been reported in up to half of widowed persons, with a higher frequency in the elderly . In the present study, the `presence’ was that of a deceased relative in only three cases bereavement cannot therefore explain the bulk of the cases.

Dopaminergic agents and other treatments

In the present study, non-hallucinators were more likely to be on anticholinergics or selegiline than patients with hallucinations. A similar paradoxical, negative association between anticholinergics and hallucinations was found by Sanchez-Ramos and colleagues . This reflects the recommendation whereby the use of these drugs in patients with cognitive impairment is avoided because of the well-known risk of cognitive worsening and/or hallucinations in this population.

Cognitive impairment

Sleepwake disturbances

Motor status


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Parkinsons Disease Psychosis: The What When Why And How

Psychosis is a psychiatric term used in neurology to refer to a spectrum of abnormalities. Parkinsons disease psychosis is where people experience hallucinations or delusions. Hallucinations is seeing, hearing, or smelling things that dont exist. With tactile hallucinations, one can feel a presence that isnt there. Delusions are believing something that is not true, like that a spouse is being unfaithful or caregivers are stealing. In this one-hour talk, movement disorder specialist Christopher Goetz, MD, focuses on hallucinations and spends a little time on delusions.

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Parkinsons Disease Psychosis: A Little

Navigating Life with Parkinson

One of the lesser-known symptoms of Parkinsons Disease is Parkinsons psychosis. This webpage explains the prevalence, causes and symptoms, treatment options of PD psychosis. More useful to caregivers are sections on potential triggers of psychotic episodes and what caregivers can do about PD psychosis.

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Visual Hallucinations According To The Duration Of Parkinson’s Disease

The prevalence of hallucinations of all types and of visual hallucinations in the 3 months preceding inclusion in the study increased with the duration of Parkinson’s disease . We compared the characteristics of the patients with and without hallucinations among those with a short history of Parkinson’s disease and those with a long history . The results are shown in Table 7. Visual hallucinations had been present for a mean of 0.8 years in the patients with short-duration Parkinson’s disease and for 2.4 years in the patients with long-duration Parkinson’s disease . However, eight patients with long-duration Parkinson’s disease and one patient with short-duration Parkinson’s disease could not remember the year of onset of visual hallucinations. In both groups, patients with formed visual hallucinations were older and were more likely to be demented, according to DSM criteria, than non-hallucinators. The MMP score was lower in patients with visual hallucinations, although the difference reached significance only in patients with long-duration Parkinson’s disease. Patients with visual hallucinations had a more severely affected motor state than non-hallucinators in the long-duration group only.

How Quest For Life Can Help

While medical teams focus on eradicating disease, Quest for Lifes focus is on empowering people to heal and live as vitally as possible. Quest for Life can help through our residential programs and 1-day workshops.

  • Our 5-day residential Quest for Life program nourishes, educates and supports you to adopt a healthy lifestyle which creates an environment for profound healing. In addition to medical education about how the disease is best managed, the program explores many avenues of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing and encourages participants to find their own best answers. Partners and loved ones are encouraged to attend and some focused sessions are conducted specifically for them.
  • Our 1-day workshop Living Mindfully with Cancer and Illness shows you ways to improve your health and create an environment for profound healing.

Quest for Life knows how to help: research shows that participants feel better after attending a program and that this improvement increases over time.

If youre living with Parkinsons Disease, fill in the Contact Form below and one of our Program Advisors will be in touch to answer your questions or to ascertain the most appropriate program for your needs.

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Delusions From Parkinsons Disease

Delusions affect only about 8 percent of people living with PD. Delusions can be more complex than hallucinations. They may be more difficult to treat.

Delusions often start as confusion that develops into clear ideas that arent based on reality. Examples of the types of delusions people with PD experience include:

  • Jealousy or possessiveness. The person believes someone in their life is being unfaithful or disloyal.
  • Persecutory. They believe that someone is out to get them or harm them in some way.
  • Somatic. They believe they have an injury or other medical problem.
  • Guilt. The person with PD has feelings of guilt not based in real behaviors or actions.
  • Mixed delusions. They experience multiple types of delusions.

Paranoia, jealousy, and persecution are the most commonly reported delusions. They can pose a safety risk to caregivers and to the person with PD themselves.

PD isnt fatal, though complications from the disease can contribute to a shorter expected life span.

Dementia and other psychosis symptoms like hallucinations and delusions do contribute to increased hospitalizations and increased rates of death .

One study from 2010 found that people with PD who experienced delusions, hallucinations, or other psychosis symptoms were about 50 percent more likely to die early than those without these symptoms.

But early prevention of the development of psychosis symptoms may help increase life expectancy in people with PD.

How Common Is Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis

Parkinsons Disease Psychosis: Hallucinations, Delusions & Paranoia

Between 20-40% of people with Parkinsons report the experience of hallucinations or delusions. When followed as the disease progresses over the years, this number increases. The increase does not mean that the hallucinations are persistent across the majority of patients. However, it is important to note that these statistics sometimes include delirium, in which the symptoms are temporary due to medication that needs to be adjusted or infection that needs to be treated, and isolated minor symptoms or minor hallucinations, including illusions, where instead of seeing things that are not there , people misinterpret things that are really there. These are the most common types of psychosis in people with PD, with different studies placing the occurrence between 25-70% of people with Parkinsons. Typically, if the person with PD only has these minor hallucinations, their doctor will not prescribe an antipsychotic medication, though more significant psychosis that requires medication may develop over time. In one study, 10% of those with minor hallucinations had their symptoms resolved within a few years, while 52% saw their symptoms remain the same and 38% saw their psychosis symptoms get worse.

We recommend that people with Parkinsons not use a single percentage to represent the prevalence of hallucinations and PDP. Parkinsons is a complex disease and as it progresses the percentages and risk of symptoms will change.

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Etiology Of Psychotic Symptoms

PD is characterized by the loss of dopaminergic neurons with cell bodies residing in the substantia nigra pars compacta with resultant decreased dopamine release in the basal ganglia. The etiology of psychosis is less understood and may involve dysfunctional dopaminergic and serotonergic, and possibly cholinergic, pathways. Indeed, drugs that block dopaminergic receptors can cause extrapyramidal symptoms.

Risk factors for PDP include: exposure to dopaminergic medications, advancing age, increasing impairment in executive function, dementia, increasing severity and duration of PD, comorbid psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety, daytime fatigue, sleep disorders, visual impairment, and polypharmacy . The presence of psychosis in patients with PD is a strong predictor of institutionalization. A study comparing PD patients still living at home with those in nursing care facilities found a 16-fold higher likelihood of hallucinations in the institutionalized group . Another review of a population of PD patients with psychosis found that after 2 years, hallucinations were linked to dementia , nursing home placement or death .

Risk Factors For Parkinsons Psychosis

Understanding the risk factors for hallucinations and delusions can help you recognize symptoms of Parkinsons psychosis. The following factors may increase the likelihood of experiencing hallucinations and delusions:

  • Advancing cognitive impairment, including worsening memory loss
  • History of depression
  • Sleep disorders and sleep disturbances
  • Changes to medications
  • Worsening medical conditions outside of Parkinsons

We have noticed that when my father had delusions, it’s been when his general health is not good, or when he has been in the hospital for PD-related issues, a MyParkinsonsTeam member commented.

Questionnaires used in a clinical setting can help assess the risk of developing hallucinations or delusions, or establish that they are occuring. These include:

  • PD nonmotor symptom scale
  • Parkinson Psychosis Questionnaire
  • Scale for Evaluation of Neuropsychiatric Disorders in Parkinsons Disease

Individuals with Parkinsons or their caregivers can speak with a neurologist to understand if any of these tools would be helpful in their particular situation.

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Mickan Against Parkinsons Gala Dinner 2019

At The Mickan against Parkinsons Adelaide, SA. Congratulations to Ms.Nassaris and the team at Adelaide Oval for putting this together .Thanks for inviting Mr Girish Nair as a speaker for the event to speak about his involvement in Mr. Mickans care as a treating Neurosurgeon

Thanks for having Neuroaxis at this event celebrating a true Champion in footy and in the fight against Parkinsons. We are proud to be part of Marks Parkinson journey.

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Hallucinations According To The Duration Of The Disease


We found that the prevalence of hallucinations of all types and of visual hallucinations in the 3 months preceding inclusion in the study increased with the duration of the disease. Moreover, the duration of Parkinson’s disease was an independent predictor of visual hallucinations in the multivariate analysis. Other studies gave conflicting results on the relationship between hallucinations and disease duration. In a retrospective study of 100 patients, logistic regression analysis also showed an association between `psychosis’ and an increased duration of the disease . An association between the duration of the disease and the occurrence of hallucinations was also found by some investigators but not by others .

Table 1

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What Are The Symptoms Of Psychosis

Two of the most prominent symptoms are hallucinations and delusions.7 Hallucinations involve seeing, hearing, experiencing or sensing things that are not really there. Delusions are false beliefs that are not based in reality. In describing symptoms of Parkinsons disease psychosis, patients may use such common terms as: seeing things, paranoia, flashbacks, nightmares, false beliefs, or not being in touch with reality.8

Whats The Treatment For Parkinsons Disease Psychosis

The single most important thing to do when it comes to Parkinsons disease psychosis is to tell your care providers and partners the minute you notice changes in your vision, hearing, thinking and behavior. The earlier they know whats going on, the sooner they can begin interventions to help you feel better.

Once you bring your concerns up to your doctor, they will typically do a clinical evaluation, review your medications and dosage, assess your lifestyle and determine the severity of your symptoms. Depending upon what they find, they may refer you to counseling or therapy, adjust your medication, change your medication, eliminate medication or do all of the above. If none of those strategies work, they may try antipsychotic drug therapy to see if they can adjust chemical levels in the brain. This can bring with it an entirely different set of problems so its important to be invested every step along the way and be sure youre well-informed before you move in that direction.

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Managing Hallucinations And Delusions

Get medical advice. In mild cases simple monitoring may be all that is required. In more severe cases changes in medications may be necessary.Rule out other causes such as eyesight issues or infections.Talk to your family and or carers to help them understand how you are feeling. It can help them to be more patient and supportive with you too.Try not to worry.Reassure yourself that these symptoms may be a side effect of Parkinsons medication.Seek counselling. People with Parkinsons, carers and family members may need support, counselling and specific advice. Medicare covers 6 – 12 sessions with a psychologist to provide a range of strategies to help.

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Australia Continues To Forge Ahead

Understanding Hallucinations in Parkinson’s Disease

Its not the first time Australian researchers have been involved in potentially groundbreaking treatments for Parkinsons disease.

In November, The New Daily reported that researchers at the University of Queensland partly funded by the Michael J Fox Foundation had developed a world-first pill that could stop the death of brain cells in Parkinsons sufferers rather than just managing symptoms.

Phase one tests of this drug are expected to take place this year, and all going well, phase two will follow in 2020.

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Overview Of Therapeutic Drugs

Several studies have reported the therapeutic effects of antidementia and antipsychotic drugs on VH. There are two types of globally used antidementia drugs, cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA receptor antagonists. We reviewed key previous studies on these drugs.

Cholinesterase inhibitors reduce VH and mostly do not worsen parkinsonism . They can be used as first-line drugs. Although there is no study showing that memantine ameliorates VH sufficiently, it may improve cognitive function . It can be used as an additional drug. Antipsychotic drugs should be used in a minimal dose due to high risks of mortality and adverse events . However, some of them reduce VH without causing intolerable adverse events . They should be used for cases that are difficult to control.

Hereafter, we will explain the studies on and detailed characteristics of these drugs and propose a treatment strategy.

How Can Caregivers Support Their Loved Ones

Caring for someone who sees, hears, or believes things that arent real can be very difficult. Try to be as patient and calm as you can.

Avoid arguing with the person. If they still have insight, gently explain that what theyre seeing isnt real. Tell anyone who cares for or visits your loved one what to expect, and how to respond.

Stay in close contact with the persons doctor. If their symptoms dont improve, ask whether they need a medication adjustment.

Check whether the person needs hearing aids or glasses. Poor hearing or vision can sometimes lead to hallucinations. It can also help to turn on bright lights at night, to prevent the shadows that may trigger visual illusions.

Secure any dangerous objects, and keep pathways in the home clear to prevent falls and injuries. If you ever feel like the person is a risk to themselves or others, call their doctor.

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Types Of Hallucinations In People With Parkinsons Disease

Hallucinations involve the five senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste.

People with hallucinations have sensory experiences that feel real to them, but are not actually happening and are not apparent to anyone else.

Types of hallucinations include:

  • Auditory: Hearing things
  • Gustatory: Tasting things

For people who experience Parkinsons-related hallucinations, the hallucinations are usually visual. They are typically non-threatening, but less commonly they can be of a threatening nature.

Often people with Parkinsons disease psychosis see small people or animals, or loved ones who have already died. They are not interacting with them, just being observed.

Auditory hallucinations are more common in people with schizophrenia, but can happen with Parkinsons disease. With Parkinsons disease, auditory hallucinations are usually accompanied by visual hallucinations.

More specific types of hallucinations experienced by people with Parkinsons disease include:

Study Design And Setting


This retrospective cohort study utilized Australian Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme data for a random representative 10% sample of the Australian population . The PBS random sample has been made available to research by Services Australia. The 10% random sample is derived from a one in ten random sample of patients eligible to the Australias universal health care system Medicare, and dispensed medications via the PBS. The PBS subsidizes prescription medications for Australias 25 million citizens, permanent residents and foreign visitors from countries with reciprocal health care agreements. The data contain person-level records of all reimbursed medications dispensed from community pharmacies, private hospitals and public hospital outpatient and discharge dispensing in all states except New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory. Since July 2012, all under co-payment are captured. Data include quantity dispensed, PBS item code, dispensing date, sex, birth year, death year, and concessional status. PBS item codes are mapped to the medication name, strength and Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification codes .

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