INTRODUCTION: Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and have a major impact on wellbeing. They nevertheless receive limited scientific attention. This study aimed to establish the symptom dimensions of anxiety in PD, and their relationship with depression, autonomic failure and motor symptoms.
METHODS: In this cross-sectional observational study, symptoms of anxiety were measured with the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) in 294 PD patients. Symptom dimensions of anxiety in PD were explored through principal component analysis (PCA) of BAI items. The relationship between anxiety and depressive, autonomic and motor symptoms was assessed through PCA and regression analyses.
RESULTS: Clinically relevant symptoms of anxiety were present in 45% of patients. PCA of the BAI resulted in five subscales, corresponding to a single affective and four somatic symptom dimensions (thermoregulation, hypotension, hyperventilation and trembling) of anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety and depression displayed a large overlap. All somatic BAI subscales were significantly influenced by motor and autonomic symptoms, while the affective subscale was not.
CONCLUSION: Anxiety in PD comprises affective and somatic symptom dimensions. The affective subscale of the BAI is not influenced by motor or autonomic symptoms, and may therefore prove useful for future research. Scores on the somatic subscales of the BAI were associated with autonomic failure and motor impairment, demonstrating a strong interplay between motor and non-motor symptoms in PD. These results stress the importance of a holistic approach of anxiety in PD.