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Psychological treatment of anxiety and depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease: A pilot study

Macquarie University are looking for participants for a pilot study.
If you are interested please call (02) 9850 8034 or email further information below.

RECRUITMENT for Macquarie Univeristy:

We seek patients with Parkinson’s disease, over the age of 50 years, who are experiencing symptoms of low mood and anxiety (or worry) to participate. If you are interested in participating, please call (02) 9850 8034 or email for more information on the study. 

Depression and anxiety are very common conditions in Parkinson’s disease. We are seeking individuals aged over 50 years with Parkinson’s disease who suffer from anxiety and/or depression to participate in a treatment trial. We are comparing the benefits of a psychological program conducted over the telephone to treatment as usual. This project is supported by a seeding grant from Parkinson’s NSW to Associate Professor Viviana Wuthrich and Distinguished Professor Ron Rapee, in the Centre for Emotional Health, Department of Psychology, Macquarie University. If you are interested in participating, or want to find out more information please call (02) 9850 8034 or email


Investigators: Associate Professor Viviana Wuthrich & Distinguished Professor Ron Rapee

Affiliation: Centre for Emotional Health, Department of Psychology, Macquarie University.

Depression and anxiety is experienced in up to 50% of patients with Parkinson’s disease and is associated with poorer quality of life, poorer functioning and greater physical and cognitive decline. Depression in the patient is also strongly associated with caregiver or spouse distress. Therefore effectively treating anxiety and depression in people with Parkinson’s disease will have a major impact on burden of the disease for both the patient and their carer. Despite this, very few studies have examined the effectiveness of psychological interventions for treating anxiety and depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease, and when they have they have focused on either treating anxiety or depression, but not both together. Depression and anxiety frequently co-occur and when they do are associated with worse outcomes. So therefore there is a great need to develop psychological programs that treat both depression and anxiety. In addition, the value of including carers in treatment programs has not been well evaluated. Given that carers can play a critical role in assisting the patient to manage their symptoms and to manage cognitive difficulties that can be associated with the disease, and given the high rates of burden on carers, it is critical to develop a program to treat anxiety and depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease that also includes carer participation.

We have previously developed and demonstrated in two large randomised controlled trials the efficacy of a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) intervention for treating co-occurring anxiety and depressive symptoms in older adults without Parkinson’s disease. In two trials, this program led to significant reductions in both anxiety and depressive symptoms with large effects that were maintained for 6 months post-treatment. In a novel approach we plan to modify our successful program to target anxiety and depression in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The program will be modified to address the specific needs of patients with Parkinson’s disease. It will also be adapted to create a role for the carer in the program so that they will participate and learn the skills taught to the patient and can assist the patient with the skills if needed. Improvements in both patient and carer distress will be compared between the two interventions.