The purpose of the current study was to address whether improvement in anxious symptoms after surgical treatment of Parkinson disease (PD) reflects a true reduction in anxiety as opposed to an epiphenomenon of parkinsonian symptom amelioration.
Recent research suggests that anxiety is common in PD. An association between surgical intervention for PD and anxiety reduction has been reported; however, it is not clear which specific symptoms of anxiety improve.
Thirty-nine PD patients completed the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) approximately 1 month before and 4 months after surgery. Twenty-four participants underwent unilateral pallidotomy, 10 underwent deep brain stimulating electrode implantation of the internal segment of the globus pallidus, 4 underwent thalamic deep brain stimulating electrode implantation, and 1 underwent left thalamotomy.
Statistically significant reductions were found postoperatively in terms of BAI total score as well as neurophysiologic, autonomic, and subjective factors from the BAI. The panic factor did not significantly change after surgery, possibly secondary to limited power afforded by the sample size.
Results suggest that surgical intervention for PD is associated with reduction in anxiety symptoms distinct from symptoms of PD. In other words, improvement in anxious symptoms reflects a true reduction in anxiety rather than simply being an epiphenomenon of parkinsonian symptom amelioration.