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Can stress trigger Parkinson's disease?
  1. Atbin Djamshidian,
  2. Andrew J Lees
  1. The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square and the Reta Lila Weston Institute of Neurological Studies, UCL, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Andrew Lees, Reta Lila Weston Institute of Neurological Studies, UCL Institute of Neurology, 1 Wakefield Street, London WC1N 1PJ, UK; andrew.lees{at}


In this manuscript we summarize the role of chronic stress as a potential trigger factor for Parkinson's disease. Underlying mechanisms and stress-induced changes to the neuronal networks have been highlighted. Examples of stress induced reversible symptoms that resemble parkinsonism in humans and in animal models raise the question whether emotional stress can cause striatal degeneration in susceptible patients. A Pubmed literature review searching for the terms ‘Stress’, ‘Distress and Parkinson's disease’, 'Emotional Distress and Parkinson's disease’, ‘Stress and Parkinson's disease’, ‘Prodromal Parkinson's disease’, ‘Non motor symptoms and Parkinson's disease’, ‘Paradoxical kinesia’, ‘Psychogenic parkinsonism’, ‘Functional somatic syndromes’, ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome’, ‘Irritable bowel syndrome’, ‘Fibromyalgia’, ‘Dopamine and fibromyalgia’, ‘Dopamine and chronic fatigue syndrome’ and ‘Dopamine and irritable bowel syndrome’ was carried out until April 2013. Articles were also identified through searches of the authors’ own files. Only papers published in English were reviewed. The final reference list was generated on the basis of originality and relevance to the broad scope of this viewpoint.

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