A significant proportion of patients with Parkinson’s disease are hiding their symptoms or diagnosis from family or friends for fear or embarrassment of being judged, a survey for charity Parkinson’s UK has revealed.

An estimated 42,000 people in the UK have delayed sharing their Parkinson’s diagnosis with someone who was close to them, with many expressing the worry that their symptoms were not socially acceptable as a reason for keeping their condition a secret.

The charity noted that the survey’s findings point to “a worrying level of emotional repercussions” for people diagnosed with the disease. Younger people were hardest hit by the diagnosis, but patients of all ages expressed the feeling “like their world had ended" and not knowing who to turn to, it noted.

“It's worrying that many people with Parkinson's, for a wide range of reasons, are not able to access the help they need - and it's having a devastating impact on their emotional health,” warned Steve Ford, chief executive at Parkinson's UK.

The disease, a neurodegenerative condition causing tremors, slow movement and limb rigidity, currently affects 127,000 people in the UK.