2 min readPublished On: June 21, 2024

Parkinson’s Related Hallucinations: A Real Concern and Possible Solution

The Parkinson’s support group in The Villages hosted an informational presentation on the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s on June 20, sponsored by Acadia, the makers of NUPLAZID®

Most people recognize the tremors, slow movement and low voice of Parkinson’s but are less familiar with the hallucinations and delusions associated with the disease.

People living with Parkinson’s can be divided into two groups, those experiencing motor issues and those experiencing motor issues and psychosis. The division is about 50/50.

Parkinson’s related psychosis can include hallucinations and delusions. The hallucinations may start as subtle visions, like shadows or hearing faint sounds, and progress to clear experiences of things that are not there.

Delusions are forced beliefs despite contrary evidence. “We could not convince my father that my mother, his wife of 52 years, was not cheating on him with a man she had hidden in the trunk of the car,” explains Paige Anderson, executive sales specialist for Acadia and daughter who recently lost her father to Parkinson’s.

While many motor symptoms are caused by a deficit of dopamine in the brain characteristic of Parkinson’s, changing levels of other brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) can cause hallucinations and delusions.

No one likes to talk about hallucinations, so they often go untreated in Parkinson’s patients. The physical symptoms are easier to admit to and demonstrate. There is an added shame in most people living with Parkinson’s to have to admit to psychotic symptoms.

“If you experience hallucinations, don’t be afraid to talk with your neurologist,” implores Paige. “There’s nothing wrong with you; it’s the Parkinson’s and there is a treatment.”

Untreated psychosis is dangerous to people living with Parkinson’s. It can cause falls and other incidents that have real physical consequences.

In the past, the treatment options for Parkinson’s hallucinations were not good. Often, patients were taken off their Parkinson’s medications to treat the psychosis. It is important to treat the psychosis but not at the expense of treating the motor symptoms, and traditional anti-psychotic medications tend to worsen Parkinson’s motor symptoms.

For Parkinson’s patients experiencing hallucinations or delusions, NUPLAZID® could be a treatment option. The medication does not interfere with motor symptoms and has only mild side-effects.

To learn more about Parkinson’s treatment options and supports, visit the Parkinson’s Support Group of The Villages.



About the Author: Christine Andola

Christine Andola
With a bachelor’s degree in communication from the State University of New York, College at New Paltz, in 1990 Christine embarked on a blind journey to building a career. She moved through teaching in the inner city public schools, reporting for a weekly newspaper, writing user manuals and technical documentation at a software company, lobbying and public relations at the state level for national associations and marketing for professional services firms. Christine’s writing portfolio includes everything from newspapers to grant proposals. She has developed web content, written blogs, ghost-written professional journal articles and drafted ad copy. From technical writing to lifestyle feature pieces, Christine lives by the value of words. She enjoys learning about the people around her and sharing information in a way that resonates with readers.

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