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Parkinson's Disease



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Freezing of gait (FOG) is experienced by a significant number of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). The pathophysiology of this disabling motor symptom remains unclear, and there are no effective therapies. Anxiety has previously been posited as a contributing factor to gait freezing. There have been few studies directly investigating this topic, and a comprehensive literature review is lacking. The objective of this paper was to systematically review the evidence associating anxiety with the presence, severity, and progression of FOG in PD patients. The PubMed, EMBASE, and PsycINFO databases were searched up to September 19, 2018, for English-language, peer-reviewed articles that explored anxiety and FOG as outcome measures in a PD population base. Review articles, case reports, and articles that assessed gait disorders other than FOG were excluded, yielding a total of 26 articles in the final analysis. Of these 26 studies, 16 had a significant relationship between anxiety outcome measure and either presence or severity of FOG. There was great variability among studies in terms of outcome measures for both FOG and anxiety. Despite this heterogeneity, most studies relate anxiety and FOG. Standardized, high-validity outcome measures of anxiety and FOG are needed. Future exploration should aim to clarify the role of anxiety in FOG as a causal factor, pathophysiological marker, and manifestation of a common pathophysiological process versus a consequence of FOG itself. Clarifying the relationship between anxiety and FOG could reveal anxiety reduction as a therapy for FOG.