Two recent studies have investigated the direct links and associations between depression and Parkinson’s Disease

A longitudinal study from Sweden investigated the long-term risk of Parkinson disease (PD) after depression and evaluated potential confounding by shared susceptibility to the two diagnoses.

Published in the journal Neurology, this study demonstrated a time-dependent effect, dose-response pattern for recurrent depression, and lack of evidence for co-aggregation among siblings which together indicate a direct association between depression and subsequent PD. Given that the association was significant for a follow-up period of more than two decades, depression may be a very early pro-dromal symptom of PD, or a causal risk factor.

The effects of anti-depressive treatments for Parkinson’s Disease were also recently reviewed in the journal Parkinsonism & Related Disorders.  The associated meta-analysis in the study demonstrates that pharmacologic treatment with antidepressant medications, specifically the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and behavioral interventions (CBT) significantly improved depression among Parkinson’s disease patients.

The authors examined trials assessing treatment for depression in Parkinson’s disease (dPD) and found that:

  • SSRIs demonstrate significant improvement in depressive symptoms.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) shows a substantial effect in dPD treatment.
  • Evidence of efficacy of both SSRIs and CBT is provided, at least on the short term.

Cohort Study:  Depression and subsequent risk of Parkinson disease – A nationwide cohort study. Gustaffssonn et al., Neurology.  Published online before print May 20, 2015, doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000001684

Antidepressive treatments for Parkinson’s disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Emily Bomasang-Layno, et al., Parkinsonism & Related Disorders, Available online 16 May 2015


Link to anti-depressive treatments article (subscription required)
Link to Swedish cohort study article