Does STRESS cause Parkinson's disease? - Parkinson's Movement

Parkinson's Movement

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Does STRESS cause Parkinson's disease?


I have had Parkinson's disease, (Pd), since 1963. I was in a very stressful work situation, which was self-induced. My symptoms slowly got worse and worse for the next 29 years, before I was finally diagnosed in 1993. At that time, I was unable to carry on working and decided to give up my high-powered job and take things easy. That was the best thing I have ever done! It cost me a great deal of money and a loss of prestige, but I regained my health, and that made it all worthwhile! Today, I have not taken any Pd medication since 2002 and I live a perfectly normal life.

What caused my Pd? Who knows? What I did to change my life, other than giving up my job, was to take a monotherapy of Eldepryl, start hard walking every second day for one hour each session and adopt a positive attitude towards my health problems. I prefer to take as little medication as possible, believing that all medication is toxic, and my body has enough problems to deal with, without having to overcome the toxic problems associated with medication.

I have realized that stress did not cause my Pd, but getting rid of all harmful stress had a very real positive effect on my health.

I have heard many people say they think that an operation, or an accident caused their Pd, but the stress related to these events possibly triggered the Pd. I know that Pd takes several years before Pd can be diagnosed. So an operation or an accident cannot suddenly bring on Pd.

What do you think?


17 Replies

Hi John,

I believe that stress can trigger illness alongside other factors. I don't believe it is the cause. When your body is malfunctioning, it's speaking to you and is telling you it doesn't like the way you are treating yourself. It's telling you to change your lifestyle and way of being.

I too have chosen not to use medication for the same reasons as you. I also participated in the Landmark Forum which is an integrity training programme that has helped me immensly. I went from being a victim to embracing my challenge. My lifestyle now incorporates meditation, prayer, good nutrition, exercise and being grateful. This is a far cry from the way I was.I was constantly on the go, annoyed with other people and myself and never satisfied.

I am now in a much better place and much happier even though I live with my friend, Parkinson's! I wouldn't chose to go back to my old life.

Hi Firefly. I wish people like you would tell the world what you are doing. When this message comes from all over the world, then patients will sit up and listen. I am not knocking doctors or Big Pharma, when I say that it is not in their interests for us to get better. Think about it! We have to take control of our lives and do what we must to get better.


I agree with your approach. I had PD signs that I see in hind sight. My debilitating symptoms appeared suddenly after my son died of drug interaction in 2002. My neuro who is in research says yes traumatic events can impel PD symptoms to progress. e.g., holocaust survivors have a higher rate of PD than non-holocaust . I'm sure there's research literature on this. In the meantime he told me, 'Don't let it progress; stay undermedicated and enjoy your life!' :D

JohnPepper in reply to PatV

Hi PatV. Thanks for this input. I am sure that hearing you tell others your story will give them strength to face up to their situation.


Dear John:

will riding a thèra cycle passively reduce Parkinson's symptoms? (riding at 11 to 13 miles an hour passively ) o

JohnPepper in reply to Cactus1

Hi Cactus1. I don't know what a thera cycle is. You will have to excuse my ignorance. Any physical exercise is good for Pd. but hard walking is the best. You may not be able to walk, but I am merely giving a general answer to this.



I know the more stress I have in my life the sicker i feel. I have more problems with my PD and Dystonia, which has become almost debilitating at certain times in my life. My roommate (security blanket) causes me stress and my boyfriend causes me stress. I have often wondered if I could still make it on my own, after having PD for 15 years now and Dystonia throughout my entire body. I am afraid that if I cut all the stress factors out that i will be all alone and sick with not much assistance but I often feel that way with these ppl in my life which makes me even more depressed. Sometimes I think there is worse things than being alone....... like wishing you were alone to get away from other ppls baggage and stress they want to push on you. I feel awful most days, but on less stressful days i feel better. I do think stress will make you sick if you let it and I totally agree with you JohnPepper about the meds statement. Thank you for the post. :-)

Any advice/suggestions?

Best wishes, Darkflower

Totally agree with John. I'm avoiding medication and I noticed if I'm fully relaxed and have a good sleep my PD symptoms are gone. But still I'm working and I have a stressful job but just try to ignore the stress.

In my humble opinion I must say that we cannot afford to ignore stress. There is always something we can do about it. If your job is stressful, then it is in everybody's interest that you talk to your employer and try t assess what is causing the stress and then work out ways of making changes to overcome that stress.

Stress kills us! Therefore, we have to find an alternative to he current situation and overcome the problems. WE are no use dead.

Many things can cause pd. People experience it in many variations. Mine was brought on like yours, during an extremely stressful job. I took a chance on a new job but the new coworkers were complete assholes. After about a year of their bs i found my arm swing gone and my handwriting torpedoed. Thats when pd entered my world. After another year i was able to remove myself from that situation and things stabilized. Then another year later my wife decided she wanted to leave me and my symptoms doubled from just my rt arm to my rt arm and leg. Shes still with me, i convinced her to stay. Things have stabilized once again, by that i mean not getting worse. Getting good at handling stress. Amino acid therapy helps balance neurotransmitters including serotonin and a few hypnosis sessions helped too.

I am so sorry to hear all this unnecessary reaction to your Pd.

Please look at these videos and contact me on my website:

My Story

San Francisco Talk:

Interview with Dr Norman Doidge

Clovelly Surf Club Talk

Barry Geffen Video

Stress has proven to be very detrimental, to body systems, generally. I had a high stress job for many years. I believe it may have contributed to my PD diagnosis; however, I've had several serious concussions over the years, that I suspect could be the root cause of the neuronal degeneration of PD.

I agree that stress is very detrimental but I don't think it can be the cause of any health problem. It certainly does not help any health problem. Concussion causes damage to the brain and I assume it does damage brain cells. Whether it damages the brain cells in the substantia nigra, I do not know.

Hallejiah. I have been saying my illness was stress induced for a long time but never saw anything that substantiated my belief. I was in an abusive marriage for 20 years. I was so codependant. The emotional abuse was worse than the physical. I came out of the divorce broken and with little confidence. I have 2 sons that I raised totally solo. I got nothing from my ex and the financial pressure was immense. I worked 2 jobs for over a year until I had viral chronic fatigue. I was debilitated but had to keep going for the boys. My son had a near fatal head injury and a myriad of other medical issues including some very tramatic experiences. I could tell when the adrenaline was pumping. My therapist said "You are running on pure adrenaline and sooner or later something will wear out" And she was right. In the meantime, I had to send my son to a inpatient program out of state because he was acting out so badly. I often cried for hours. Six years after my divorce I met the love of my life. We became engaged 21 days later and married 6 months later. He died suddenly 2 months after we married. I almost didn't come back from that horrific blow but my sons needed me. There have been many other losses and traumas. I was diagnosed with early onset PD at the age of 51. I am now 70. I believe with all my heart that the disease was a result of abnormally high stress over a period of many, many years is the reason I struggle with PD

yes, I think stress can generate PD.

My heart breaks when I read about what has happened to other people. Divorce; medical problems; Loss of partner; rearing children and trying to put food on the table all add up to one big problem.

Somehow we get through them, but what makes us carry on? Some people top them themselves and others seem to cope and come through with flying colors. If only we could switch off our problems and leave them behind for a while. They will never just go away, but we might survive without developing things like Pd and AD.

I have found that getting involved in someone else's problems takes us away from our own problems and makes us aware that we are not as badly off as we thought!

I agree.

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