HomeHow To Treat Hallucinations In Parkinson Disease

How To Treat Hallucinations In Parkinson Disease

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Knowing The Risk Factors

Parkinsonâs Disease Psychosis: A Caregiverâs Story

Family members and caregivers should be aware of risk factors, and like with other PD changes, report them to the doctor. Reversible causes like urinary tract infections, sleep disturbances and medication changes can be addressed, and for most the symptoms will abate. Even over-the-counter drugs and supplements can pose risks for people with PD.

Medication adjustments of antiparkinsonian drugs present a delicate balance to control both motor issues and manage psychological symptoms.1,4 The medical team may swap specific drugs or modify dosages to find the best fit for each person. Older people and those with vision problems are also more likely to develop these kinds of psychoses.

Psychosis: A Mind Guide To Parkinsons

Can be downloaded as a PDF or ordered the Parkinson’s Foundation online store. This 40-page booklet is a thorough guide to all aspects of Parkinsons psychosis, including symptoms, causes, treatment options, coping strategies for both the family and person experiencing the psychosis, and a chapter on tips for caregivers.

How To Care For Someone Who Experiences Hallucinations

If the person you care for experiences a hallucination, there are a few things youll want to do in the moment and others youll want to do when the moment passes.

The most important thing to remember is to never try and talk the person with Parkinsons out of their hallucination. They are actively experiencing it and by trying to talk them out of it, they may either feel like they arent being heard or that their experience is being diminished.

What matters in the moment is their safety and your reassurance that theyre going to be okay. You might calmly say, I understand that youre seeing X. Im not having that experience, and I just want you to know that everything is going to be okay, theres nothing dangerous happening here and youre safe.

Other strategies Dr. Joanne Hamilton, PhD, ABPP-CN of Advanced Neurobehavioral Health of Southern California, shared with us are to:

  • Turn on all of the lights to make the room as bright as possible as hallucinations often happen in low lights
  • Have the person look closely at what theyre seeing as that can help reset the brain and make the hallucination end
  • If the person does not have insight, give them a lot of reassurance, provide a distraction, move into a different room or suggest a new activity
  • Here are a few actions you can take once the hallucination has passed:

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    Motor And Nonmotor Symptoms Of Pd

    At its core, PD is characterized by four cardinal symptoms: bradykinesia, rigidity, resting tremor, and postural instability.4 Along with these typical motor symptoms come many nonmotor symptoms with significant associated morbidity and mortality. These include autonomic dysfunction, disorders of sleep and wakefulness, cognitive dysfunction and dementia, mood disorders, and psychosis.5 These nonmotor symptoms of PD are responsible for a significant proportion of hospitalizations, with psychosis reportedly accounting for 24% of hospital admissions in patients with PD.6 This fact signifies the importance of properly managing patients with PD psychosis on both an inpatient and an outpatient basis.6

    What Treatments Are Available For Parkinsons Psychosis

    Psychosis in parkinsons disease

    Your doctor may first reduce or change the PD medication youre taking to see whether that reduces psychosis symptoms. This is about finding a balance.

    People with PD may need higher doses of dopamine medication to help manage motor symptoms. But dopamine activity shouldnt be increased so much that it results in hallucinations and delusions. Your doctor will work with you to find that balance.

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    How To Talk To Someone With Hallucinations Or Delusions

    • It is usually not helpful to argue with someone who is experiencing a hallucination or delusion. Avoid trying to reason. Keep calm and be reassuring.
    • You can say you do not see what your loved one is seeing, but some people find it more calming to acknowledge what the person is seeing to reduce stress. For example, if the person sees a cat in the room, it may be best to say, “I will take the cat out” rather than argue that there is no cat.

    Page reviewed by Dr. Chauncey Spears, Movement Disorders Fellow at the University of Florida, a Parkinsons Foundation Center of Excellence.

    Treatment Of Parkinsons Disease Psychosis

    Andrew Schleisman, PharmD Candidate 2017

    Mikayla Spangler, PharmD, BCPSAssociate Professor of Pharmacy Practice

    Emily Knezevich, PharmD, BCPS, CDEAssociate Professor of Pharmacy PracticeCreighton University School of Pharmacy and Health ProfessionsOmaha, Nebraska

    US Pharm. 2016 41:HS20-HS26.

    ABSTRACT: Delusions and hallucinations in patients with Parkinsons disease, a condition known as Parkinsons disease psychosis , have historically been treated with clozapine and quetiapine because of their relatively low likelihood of worsening motor symptoms. Although clozapine is considered the drug of choice, it is underused in this population because of the need for frequent monitoring. Quetiapine, on the other hand, is generally first-line treatment despite its questionable efficacy. Consequently, in 2006, the American Academy of Neurology identified a need for the development of a novel antipsychotic with evidence of both safety and efficacy in patients with PDP. Pimavanserin, which has shown promise in clinical trials, recently became the first agent to receive FDA approval for the treatment of PDP.

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    Age And Duration Of Illness

    Increased age has been associated with the presence of hallucinations. This might be explained by accerelated sensory loss or age related side effects of medication. One of the main confounders with age is duration of illness when the non-independence of these variables was controlled, Fénelon et alfound that duration of illness was the crucial factor. Grahamet al identified two subgroups of patients with Parkinson’s disease experiencing hallucinosis: in those with disease duration of 5 years or less, visual hallucinations were associated with rapid progression of the motor but not the cognitive component of the disease. In the remainder with longer histories, visual hallucinations were associated with postural instability, global cognitive impairment, and the lack of depression. Goetz et al contrasted patients with Parkinson’s disease who experienced hallucinations within 3 months of levodopa therapy with those who experienced hallucinations after 1 year of treatment. Diagnoses in the early onset group more often changed to Lewy body or Alzheimer’s disease. Lewy bodies are present to a greater or lesser degree in all cases of Parkinson’s disease and are known to be associated with visual hallucinations.

    Capturing The Neural Activity

    Understanding Hallucinations in Parkinson’s Disease

    Blanke is currently conducting a large clinical trial to confirm his results and extend the behavioral and neuroimaging data to define further subgroups of patients and investigate the possible relation between presence hallucinations and other forms of hallucinations, such as auditory, tactile, and olfactory hallucinations, as well as the possible relation between presence hallucinations and cognitive decline. His group also plans to further adapt the robotic technology in combination with magnetic resonance imaging with the goal of capturing the neural activity associated with hallucinations while they occur. He is also adapting and improving the robotic technology and is working on developing a fully wearable system.

    Blanke hopes that in the future, an early diagnosis of presence hallucinations may help physicians to adapt treatments and allow early interventions targeting specific forms of Parkinsons disease and help to conduct a more homogeneous selection of patient samples for specific cognitive trials.

    Dolhun says that the Michael J. Fox Foundation is very interested in artificial intelligence, robotics, and other technology that can enhance traditional treatments, and Blankes research is important in that regard. I hope this research will lead to better treatments and help us predict which Parkinsons disease patients will develop hallucinations.

    ByDavid Levineon Sep 16, 2021

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    What Causes Parkinsons Disease Psychosis

    Parkinsons is a brain disorder associated with a loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells deep inside the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the bodys movement, and it also allows us to think clearly and regulate our emotions. When you try to replace the dopamine thats been lost in a person with Parkinsons, it can cause the system to get out of whack which can impact thinking, how visual things are processed and more. Parkinsons disease psychosis is therefore typically a side effect of the disease itself or the medications used to manage it.

    As a result, its an ongoing balancing act for Parkinsons doctors to prescribe enough dopamine to control a person with Parkinsons motor symptoms, but not so much that the person experiences hallucinations and/or delusions.

    Watch Jay & Dianes Story

    Dianes husband, Jay, experiences hallucinations and delusions related toPD. In this video, Diane talks about the challenges of caregiving and how learning about other people’s experiences with PD has helped her feel less alone.

    These stories represent the experiences of actual patients and caregivers. The opinions expressed are their own, and individual experiences may vary. Always speak with your healthcare provider.


    • Medicines like NUPLAZID can raise the risk of death in elderly people who have lost touch with reality due to confusion and memory loss .

    • NUPLAZID is not approved for the treatment of patients with dementia-related psychosis unrelated to the hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinsons disease psychosis.

    • Do not take NUPLAZID if youhave had an allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in NUPLAZID. Allergic reactions have included rash, hives, swelling of the tongue, mouth, lips, or face, throat tightness, and shortness of breath.
    • Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take.Other medicines may affect how NUPLAZID works. Some medicines should not be taken with NUPLAZID. Your healthcare provider can tell you if it is safe to take NUPLAZID with your other medicines. Do not start or stop any medicines while taking NUPLAZID without talking to your healthcare provider first.


    Dosage and Administration

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    What Are Parkinsons Hallucinations

    Symptoms of psychosis occur in up to 50% of people with Parkinsons disease.

    Parkinsons disease psychosis is considered a neuropsychiatric condition. This means it involves neurology and psychiatry . While the psychosis involves mental health symptoms, they are caused by Parkinsons disease, which is a disease of the nervous system.

    Psychosis in Parkinsons disease comes in two forms:

    • Hallucinations: Sensory experiences that are not really happening
    • Delusions: False beliefs not based on reality

    These symptoms can be debilitating and scary for the people experiencing them. They can interfere with a persons ability to care for themselves and to relate to other people.

    Psychotic symptoms in Parkinsons disease are associated with increased caregiver distress, risk of hospitalization and nursing home placement, and healthcare costs.

    A study suggests the presence of hallucinations and delusions in people with Parkinsons disease is a predictor of mortality .

    Hallucinations In Parkinsons Disease: Approach And Management

    Identifying and Assessing Psychosis in Patients With ...

    Risk Factors

    Risk factors that have been reported include dementia, duration of therapy with dopaminergic medications, duration of disease, age of patients,10,11 anticholinergic medications, and sleep disorders.12-15 The mnemonic SADDAD can be used to recall these risk factors for hallucinations in PD:

    Sleep disorders Anticholinergic medications Duration of disease

    Severe cognitive impairment or dementia is a major and independent predictive factor for visual hallucinations.4,9,16 In one study, the prevalence of visual hallucinations was reported as 70% in patients with PD who have dementia.9 It is not clear whether cognitive impairment and hallucinations occur independently as the natural progression of disease or if they have causative links. Studies using positron emission tomography have shown marked occipital hypometabolism in patients with PD who have dementia.17 This suggests that degenerative process in the visual cortex can be a cause for visual hallucinations.

    Auditory and Tactile Hallucinations



    AcknowledgmentThe authors acknowledge the help of Dr. Robert Palmer, Chief of Geriatric Section, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, in the preparation of this paper.

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    The Hallucinatory Side Of Parkinsons

    If you are surprised that people with Parkinsons have hallucinations, you are not alone, according to Rachel Dolhun, a board-certified neurologist and movement disorder specialist who is the communications chief at the Michael J. Fox Foundation and was not involved in the new research. Most people are familiar with the movement disorders associated with Parkinsons disease, such as tremor, limb rigidity, or gait and balance problems. They are not as familiar with hallucinations or sleep issues, or mood changes that Parkinsons disease patients often develop, she says.

    According to the Parkinsons Foundation, the non-motor symptoms of the disease can include attention disorders, language difficulty, memory loss, dementia, the loss of smell or taste, mood disorders, insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, anxiety, apathy, and delusionsas well as hallucinations.

    This can be of great concern if a Parkinsons disease patient tries to stop a perceived intruder.

    In people who have more advanced cases, hallucinations, thinking problems, and dementia are more common, Dolhun says. Adding to the confusion is that some of the drugs used to treat motor symptoms can cause memory problems as well as hallucinations.

    The hallucinations can range from seeing a dead loved one children playing on a playground, Dolhun says. Some patients see them as benign and dont worry about them. Others are frightened.

    I Had A Hallucination: What Next

    Research has shown that for many people with PD who have them, hallucinations begin after a change in medication, more specifically, an increase in levodopa . Additional factors make a person more likely to experience hallucinations when medications are changed, such as other cognitive problems or memory issues, depression and sleep problems. Dementia|A term used to describe a group of brain disorders that cause a broad complex of symptoms such as disorientation, confusion, memory loss, impaired judgment and alterations in mood and personality.] also increases the risk of hallucinations and delusions when PD medications are changed. Dementia means cognitive changes whether in memory, judgment or attention that interfere with daily life.

    One thing that does not affect the risk of hallucinations is your regular dose of levodopa. Rather, studies show that it is a change in dose an increase in a dose that has been stable that sets off hallucinations.

    Tip: Experiencing a hallucination does not mean you are going crazy. Many people recognize that their hallucinations are not real. Do not react to these visions or sounds or engage them dismiss them. Bring up the topic with your doctor immediately.

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    Delusions From Parkinsons Disease

    Delusions affect only about 8 percent of people living with PD. Delusions can be more complex than hallucinations. They may be more difficult to treat.

    Delusions often start as confusion that develops into clear ideas that arent based on reality. Examples of the types of delusions people with PD experience include:

    • Jealousy or possessiveness. The person believes someone in their life is being unfaithful or disloyal.
    • Persecutory. They believe that someone is out to get them or harm them in some way.
    • Somatic. They believe they have an injury or other medical problem.
    • Guilt. The person with PD has feelings of guilt not based in real behaviors or actions.
    • Mixed delusions. They experience multiple types of delusions.

    Paranoia, jealousy, and persecution are the most commonly reported delusions. They can pose a safety risk to caregivers and to the person with PD themselves.

    PD isnt fatal, though complications from the disease can contribute to a shorter expected life span.

    Dementia and other psychosis symptoms like hallucinations and delusions do contribute to increased hospitalizations and increased rates of death .

    One study from 2010 found that people with PD who experienced delusions, hallucinations, or other psychosis symptoms were about 50 percent more likely to die early than those without these symptoms.

    But early prevention of the development of psychosis symptoms may help increase life expectancy in people with PD.

    Overview Of Pdp Management

    Webinar: “Treating Parkinson’s Hallucinations and Delusions” May 2016

    Physical Versus Emotional Control:The intertwining pathophysiology of psychosis and PD through dopaminergic pathways presents healthcare professionals and patients with the unfortunate choice between physical and emotional stability. Dopaminergic agents that treat the symptoms of PD and maintain physical control are predominately associated with the triggering of psychosis symptoms through D2-receptor activation.9,11 This swing to emotional instability could be broadly treated in one of two ways. One option is to stop the anti-PD agent however, this is not feasible for most patients because physical instability and motor symptoms would return. Alternatively, an antipsychotic could be added, but nearly all typical and atypical antipsychotics work via D2-receptor antagonism, potentially tipping the scale toward physical instability. Accordingly, methods used in practice involve dose reduction of offending agents, as tolerated, or the use of an atypical antipsychotic with low D2-receptor affinity.9,11

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    How Can I Get Help

    First and most importantly, if you find yourself experiencing symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions, speak out. It is essential to talk about your full range of Parkinsons disease symptoms with your treatment team. A dialogue among patients, care partners, and physicians is a critical component of the effective management of your condition.

    References: 1. Forsaa EB, Larsen JP, Wentzel-Larsen T, et al. A 12-year population-based study of psychosis in Parkinsons disease. Arch Neurol. 2010 67:996-1001. 2. Ravina B, Marder I Neural Neursurg Psychiatry. 2011 70:734-738. 4. Fenelon G, Mahieux F, Huon M, Ziegler M. Hallucinations in Parkinsons disease: prevalence, phenomenology and risk factors. Brain. 2000 123:733-745. 5. Wolters ECh. PD- related psychosis: pathophysiology with therapeutical strategies. J Neural Transm. 2006 71:31-37. 6. Goldman JG, Holden S. Treatment of psychosis and dementia in Parkinsons disease. Curr Treat Options Neurol. 2014 16: 281. 7. Goldman JG, Vaughan C, Goetz CG. An update expert opinion on management and researcl, strategies in Parkinsons disease psychosis. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2011 12:2009-2024. 8. Data on file, ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. 9. Fenelon G, Alves G. Epidemiology of psychosis in Parkinsons disease. } Neurol Sci. 2010 289:12-17.


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