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Studies have already shown that relatives of individuals with Parkinson’s have an increased risk of the disease. Also observed is that immediate relatives (brother, sister, mother, father, son or daughter) of people who have Parkinson’s disease are at increased risk for developing depression and anxiety disorders—particularly if Parkinson’s occurs before age 75.

Many Parkinson’s disease patients develop anxiety and depression after, and even before, the onset of the disease. Researcher, Walter Rocca, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and epidemiologist, wanted to explore if family members of Parkinson’s patients showed a tendency for development of anxiety and depression.

The immediate relatives (1,000 people) of 162 Parkinson’s patients were interviewed. Those interviews were compared to a matched control group (free of Parkinson’s) of 147 individuals, with 850 immediate relatives interviewed. The researchers found that relatives of patients with Parkinson’s disease are at an increased risk of anxiety and depressive disorders, when compared to the group free of Parkinson’s.

Dr. Rocca emphasizes that the familial susceptibility factors may be genetic, environmental, or a combination of the two. Further research is needed to determine the exact reason for the study’s results.