Parkinson’s Disease: Understanding Symptoms, Causes & Coping Strategies

Parkinson’s Disease: Understanding Symptoms, Causes & Coping Strategies


Parkinson’s disease affects the nerves and the parts of the body controlled by nerves in our brain. It is a degenerative brain condition associated with ageing, causing deterioration in brain function over time. Common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremors, muscle contractions and difficulty in speaking. Dementia commonly affects individuals with Parkinson’s disease. There are no definitive findings regarding its cause. However, individuals with a family history of the disease can be affected. Treatment aims to alleviate symptoms but does not provide a cure.

What is Parkinson’s disease? 

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, “Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disorder that is caused by degeneration of nerve cells in the part of the brain called the substantia nigra, which controls movement. These nerve cells die or become impaired, losing the ability to produce an important chemical called dopamine.”

It creates problems with body movements, mental function, and sleep and causes pain and other health issues. It predominantly occurs in older people, but it can also occur in young people. Experts estimate that Parkinson’s disease affects at least 1% of people over 60 years old, with males at higher risk than females.

Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease 

The symptoms of it may be distinctive from one individual to another. Some early symptoms mildly appeared and went unnoticed after some period. The symptoms influence the well-being of a person. The common symptoms of it are:

  • Lack of automatic moments: Decreased ability to perform unconscious moments like smiling, blinking, or swinging the arms while walking. 
  • Tremor: It is the shakiness of muscles rhythmically. It begins usually in the limbs and hands or fingers. People may rub their thumb and forefinger forward and backward this is called a pill-rolling tremor. This shaking may decrease when an individual does some activities. 
  • Muscle Rigidity and muscle stiffness: The lead-pipe rigidity is unchanging and persistent stiffness when moving a part of the body. Cogwheel stiffness is the combination of tremor and lead-pipe rigidity, it is like jerks, a stop-and-go appearance of the moment. These are the common symptoms of it
  • Slowdown moments (bradykinesia): The diagnosis needs this symptom must be present. It slows down the moments of an individual, it makes simple tasks difficult to do. For example, people may difficult to get out of a chair or they may shuffle their feet when trying to walk. 
  • Speech and writing changes: People with this had many changes in their speech and writing. Their speech becomes monotone rather than normal speech and they speak softly or quickly and so on. And they feel hard to write and their writing appears small.
  • Impairment in posture and walking: The postures become stooped due to slowed moments and muscle stiffness. This usually happens when the disease becomes worse and severe. We can see that people shorten their steps and may take several steps while they walk these are the impairments of walking in it.
  • Other symptoms: Drooling, depression, trouble swallowing, lack of smell sense, sleep problems, and trouble in thought process in focus. 

Stages in Parkinson’s disease 

It shows severe effects after many years or decades, Margaret Hoehn and  Melvin Yahr in 1967 created the stages for it. However, that stage is no longer in widespread use because the stages are not that helpful for treatment. Presently the  Movement Disorder Society Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS)  classifies this illness. The apparatus had four distinctive stages of diagnosis of and they are; 

  • Stage 1: Non-motor aspect: In this stage, an individual is covered with non-motor symptoms like dementia, depression, anxiety and other mental functional issues. 
  • Stage 2: Motor aspect: In this stage, the individual has difficulties in motor abilities,  such as eating, chewing, and so on. 
  • Stage 3: Motor examination: Healthcare providers use this stage to determine the effects of moment-related issues such as stiffness, walking, tremors, etc. 
  • Stage 4: Complications in motor aspect: This stage covers how much the Parkinson’s disease symptoms made an impact on an individual’s normal life. 

Causes and risk factors 

  • Sex: Men have a higher risk of it than women. 
  • Exposure to toxic substances: More exposure to herbicides and pesticides may increase the risk of causing it. 
  • Age: Older people had a higher risk of it than younger adults.
  • Genes: Research shows that specific genetic changes can cause it. However, these changes are uncommon except for some rare cases like a family history of it.
  • Changes in brain: Lewy bodies and Alpha-synuclein are found with Lewy bodies the clumps of specific substances within the cells in our brain. It is also one of the reasons that causes it in people. 


It is not curable but some medicines, rehabilitation, surgeries and therapies may help to reduce the symptoms of it. Medicines like levodopa increase the dopamine level in the brain and help to reduce the symptoms of it Dementia affects most people with Parkinson’s disease.. Some of the therapies can help to reduce the tremors. Rehabilitation with physiotherapy can give relief from Parkinson’s disease. Strength, gait, balance training and hydrotherapy can help improve the functioning of people with Parkinson’s disease. In addition to these family care is important to make the individual comfortable and hopeful. 

Clinical Psychologist Mansi More suggests that supporting elders with Parkinson’s disease requires multiple approaches. Starting with supportive therapy or emotional support can help them process their feelings. It is also crucial to provide psychoeducation about the disease to both patients and their family members.

According to Clinical Psychologist Mansi More, Implementing relaxation exercises is essential for managing symptoms like hand and bodily tremors. Techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) can alleviate muscle rigidity, improve blood flow, and address challenges related to speech and writing. By tensing and relaxing different muscle groups systematically, individuals can reduce muscle tension and enhance their overall well-being. Social engagement plays a vital role in managing Parkinson’s disease. Encouraging patients to communicate their symptoms, like difficulties with blinking or smiling, can prevent misunderstandings in social settings. Motivating them to participate in social activities and ensuring family members involve them rather than isolating them can significantly improve their quality of life.

Sleep dysfunction is another common issue for Parkinson’s patients. Teaching proper sleep hygiene can greatly enhance sleep quality. Recommendations include reducing screen time before bed, engaging in morning exercises if allowed by a doctor, and reading dull material to induce sleepiness. Avoiding phone use before sleep is essential as it can disrupt sleep patterns. Managing bodily pain through distraction techniques and relaxation methods is crucial for improving the overall quality of life for Parkinson’s patients. Implementing these strategies can effectively manage pain, contributing to a more comfortable and fulfilling life. Additionally, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help challenge negative thoughts and develop coping strategies to further improve their quality of life.


The followings help us to prevent Parkinson’s disease after 60 years of age.

It is a condition that is caused by ageing. Ageing is an unavoidable thing.  We cannot control our ageing, but we can prevent the health issues that develop with ageing.  We can fight any health issues when we consume healthy food and maintain a proper lifestyle at a young age. Also, we should maintain our health properly to prevent future disabilities and dysfunctions. 

According to Varsha Rani Choudhary, “Since Parkinson’s disease progresses over time, neither its underlying unknown causes nor its genetic makeup can be avoided or ignored; however, there are environmental measures that can be implemented to reduce the likelihood of the condition and slow down its rate of advancement. A patient’s sense of control over their symptoms can undoubtedly make them feel better about their sickness. Certainly, a person’s chance of developing stress can be decreased by managing their stress through healthy coping mechanisms and a healthy lifestyle.

On the other hand, more work can be done to slow the disease’s progression by working on the anxiety, depression, and social skills that have been secondary factors in many cases. Minimizing the effects of these can lessen the impact of symptoms on an individual. Psychological services such as Behavioral strategies such as roleplay, reinforcement, and muscular relaxation (only in specific cases, as it might cause anxiety sometimes) can assist a patient become more efficient with the disease, while cognitive restructuring can be helpful in some cases where the patient has depression or fear of rejection or judgment. Enhancing the effectiveness of social skills can also lessen performance anxiety, which is a prevalent symptom of Parkinson’s disease. It is undoubtedly possible to slow the progression and lead a healthy lifestyle with the aid of techniques like these. Moreover in therapy terms, CBT, REBT, and ACT have been quite efficient approaches in maintaining a healthy lifestyle along with such disease.”

What is Parkinson’s disease? 

Parkinson’s disease affects the nerves and body parts controlled by nerves in our brain. It is a degenerative brain condition associated with ageing, causing deterioration in brain function over time. Common symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are tremors, muscle contractions and difficulty in speaking. Dementia commonly affects individuals with Parkinson’s disease.

Who is affected by Parkinson’s disease? 

It predominantly occurs in older people, but it also occurs in young people.  The expert’s statement says that it affects at least 1% of the people who are over 60. And the male population had a higher risk of Parkinson’s disease than the female population. 

What is Parkinsonism, and how does it differ from Parkinson’s disease? 

Parkinsonism is an umbrella term used to describe Parkinson’s disease and other similar conditions of Parkinson’s disease. 

Is Parkinson’s disease curable or not?

It is not curable, but some medicines, rehabilitation, surgeries, and therapies may help reduce the symptoms of the disease. 

Further readings 
References +
  • Zafar, S., & Yaddanapudi, S. S. (2023, August 7). Parkinson Disease. StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.
  • Parkinson’s disease – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic. (2024, April 5). Mayo  Clinic. disease/symptoms-causes/sync-20376055 
  • Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.). Parkinson’s Disease. Cleveland Clinic. • World Health Organization: WHO & World Health Organization: WHO. (2023, August 9). Parkinson’s disease. disease 
  • Brazier, Y. (2024, January 24). Parkinson’s disease early signs and causes. 
  • Parkinson’s Disease. (n.d.). WebMD. disease/default.htm