If you’re not familiar with Parkinson’s disease-related hallucinations and delusions, you’re not alone.
The motor symptoms people experience with Parkinson’s disease (PD) may be more well known. But hallucinations and delusions related to PD are non-motor symptoms you should know about as well.
The 2 general types of Parkinson’s disease symptoms:
Most people are well aware of the motor symptoms associated with PD, such as resting tremors, limb stiffness, impaired balance, and slow movement.
What may be more unexpected are non-motor symptoms of PD, such as hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or experiencing things that others don't) and delusions (believing things that aren’t true). These non-motor symptoms, when experienced as part of Parkinson’s, are known as Parkinson’s disease psychosis (PDP).
How people describe their hallucinations or delusions:
Seeing things that others don't
Such as people, either living or deceased, animals, or objects
Like believing people are talking about you, or trying to access your money
May include fears of your loved ones stealing from you, putting you in harm’s way, or being unfaithful
Out of touch with reality
Not being able to tell what’s real or imagined
MORE THAN 50% of people living with Parkinson’s will experience hallucinations or delusions over the course of their disease.
Are you experiencing hallucinations and delusions?
Now is the time to talk to your healthcare provider about them. This guide can help you start the conversation.
What causes Parkinson’s disease hallucinations and delusions?
Currently, there is no clear understanding of the exact cause of hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson’s. However, certain brain chemicals and receptors (such as dopamine and serotonin) are believed to play a role. In general, the condition is thought to be caused by the following:
SIDE EFFECT OF DOPAMINE THERAPY
Hallucinations and delusions may be a side effect of common Parkinson’s medications (called dopaminergic therapies). These medications increase dopamine levels in the brain, helping improve motor symptoms in patients with Parkinson’s. However, increasing dopamine levels may also cause changes that lead to hallucinations and delusions.
THE NATURAL PROGRESSION OF PARKINSON’S
Hallucinations and delusions can be triggered by changes in the brain that occur naturally as Parkinson’s progresses—regardless of whether or not you take any medications to increase your dopamine levels.
Download a guide to understanding the condition
If you’d like to print, share, or view this information as a PDF