Having anxiety can double the risk of developing Parkinson's disease in adults over the age of 50, a recent study revealed.

Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects the lives of nearly 10 million people worldwide. It is a progressive disorder caused by the death or impairment of nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.

In the latest study, researchers examined whether there is a connection between newly developed anxiety in individuals over 50 and the eventual diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. They analyzed a cohort comprising 109,435 patients who developed anxiety after reaching 50, contrasting them with 878,256 matching controls who did not have anxiety.

The team also tracked the participants for typical features of Parkinson's such as sleep problems, depression, tremors, and balance issues from the time of their anxiety diagnosis until one year before the Parkinson's diagnosis. This helped them understand each group's risk of developing Parkinson's over time and identify their risk factor.

The results showed that there is a two-fold increased risk of Parkinson's disease in the anxiety group after adjusting for factors such as age, sex, social deprivation, lifestyle factors, severe mental illness, head trauma, and dementia. For those with anxiety, factors like depression, low blood pressure, tremors, stiffness, balance issues, constipation, sleep disruptions, fatigue, and cognitive challenges were linked to a heightened risk of developing Parkinson's disease.

"Anxiety is known to be a feature of the early stages of Parkinson's disease, but prior to our study, the prospective risk of Parkinson's in those over the age of 50 with new-onset anxiety was unknown," said co-lead author, Dr. Juan Bazo Avarez in a news release.

"By understanding that anxiety and the mentioned features are linked to a higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease over the age of 50, we hope that we may be able to detect the condition earlier and help patients get the treatment they need," Avarez said.

"Anxiety is not as well researched as other early indicators of Parkinson's disease. Further research should explore how the early occurrence of anxiety relates to other early symptoms and to the underlying progression of Parkinson's in its early stages. This may lead to better treatment of the condition in its earliest stages," added co-lead author Professor Anette Schrag.