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Relatives of Parkinson's Patients at Higher Psychiatric Risk

This suggests a link between the illness and depression, anxiety disorders, researchers say

THURSDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The close relatives of people with Parkinson's disease are at increased risk for depression and anxiety disorders, new research suggests.

The risk is particularly high in the brothers, sisters, parents and children of people who develop Parkinson's before age 75, said a team from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

The study included 1,000 immediate relatives of 162 Parkinson's patients and 850 immediate relatives of 147 people without Parkinson's. It's the first large population-based study to identify this kind of association.

"Studies by our group and others have shown that relatives of patients with Parkinson's disease have an increased risk of Parkinson's disease. Recently, we showed they also have increased risk of essential tumor and of cognitive impairment or dementia. However, the risk of psychiatric disorders was unknown," senior author Dr. Walter Rocca, a neurologist and epidemiologist, said in a prepared statement.

"Because many patients with Parkinson's disease develop anxiety and depression after and even before the onset of the disease, we explored whether this tendency was present to a greater extent in family members of people with Parkinson's disease compared with people without the disease. We found that, indeed, relatives of patients with Parkinson's disease are at increased risk for anxiety and depressive disorders, which suggests a genetic or other relationship between those disorders and Parkinson's disease," Rocca said.

Further research is needed to determine the exact cause or causes that boost the risk, he said.

The study was published in the December issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

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SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, Dec. 3, 2007

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