Last updated on February 2020

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety Disorders in PD


Brief description of study

Anxiety disorders occur in up to 35% of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and have a negative effect on gait, dyskinesia, freezing, on/off fluctuations, and quality of life. With this Randomized Controlled Trial the investigators intend to 1) develop a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) module for anxiety in PD 2) assess the effectiveness of this module in reducing anxiety symptoms, and 3) study the effects of CBT on cerebral connectivity. Effective CBT treatment of anxiety will provide patients with behavioural and anxiety management techniques that can give lasting benefits, not only on anxiety symptoms, but potentially also on motor symptoms.

Detailed Study Description

Anxiety is common in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and has a negative effect on several motor symptoms and quality of life in general. So far, there is no treatment, neither pharmacological nor psychotherapeutic, that intends to specifically reduce anxiety symptoms in PD. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders in patients without PD. In PD, CBT is an effective treatment for depression and for impulse control disorders (ICD). PD patients who received CBT for depression reported not only a reduction in depression and comorbid anxiety, but also a beneficial influence on coping and quality of life, compared to PD patients who only received clinical monitoring. In addition to the clinical effectiveness, several studies have demonstrated the therapeutic effects of CBT on functional neural activity. The two most common anxiety disorders in patients with Parkinson's Disease (PD): generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD) are both characterized by dysfunctional connectivity between limbic areas (among which the amygdala) and the frontal cortex. Recent functional imaging studies have shown that CBT can alter neural correlates of affective processing by increasing functional connectivity between limbic and frontal cortices. The present study aims to study the clinical effectiveness of a CBT module for the treatment of the two most common anxiety disorders in patients with Parkinson's Disease (PD): generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD) in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The CBT module will be based on existing modules for anxiety disorders in non-PD patients, and on modules for depression and ICD in PD patients. In addition, the investigators aim to get more insight into biological dysfunction associated with anxiety in PD, as well as alterations in brain structure, brain function and cerebral connectivity due to CBT. The investigators will study the biological correlates of successful treatment by using structural and functional magnetic resonance-imaging (MRI) scanning. The present study further aims to study the long term clinical effectiveness of the CBT module, measured by the change anxiety score after 3 and 6 months follow-up.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT02648737

Recruitment Status: Closed


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