Essential Tremor & Parkinson’s Disease Support Groups

Happy New Year & Best Regards from our team at Steadiwear

Hands for blog Sept 2018

Parkinson’s disease (PD) and essential tremor (ET) are the two most occurring movement disorders with tremors being the most noticeable symptom. Unfortunately, shaky hands lead to secondary medical conditions that affect patients’ physical and emotional lives. A recent study examined psychological complications in PD and ET patients such as depression, anxiety and social phobia, and found a high comorbidity of these disorders (1). This consequently affects personal relationships as well as limits social interaction and the ability of performing activities of daily living.

“My tremor makes me feel negative about myself; I am embarrassed about my tremor; I am depressed because of my tremor; I worry about the future; I am nervous or anxious; I have difficulty concentrating because of my tremor” (2).

It is very important to touch on such complications of PD and ET because they affect half, if not more, of the patients living with these movement disorders. On the bright side, there is a silver lining to this phenomenon. Since so many are affected by these symptoms, there is an abundance of people going through the same experiences, people who may be able to provide support in multiple forms. A study by Heusinkveld et al. showed an association between attending support groups and a better quality of life which includes reduced depression and anxiety for patients (3). This can be explained by the gain in knowledge about the illness, as well as being able to share personal worries and anxieties, and eventually realizing that these individuals are not the only ones suffering from the condition (4).

In summary, since many patients complain of finding it hard to ask their doctors questions or in some cases do not feel comfortable discussing their problems with family and friends, support groups allow PD and ET patients to:

  • Learn from others’ experiences.
  • Gain knowledge about what is available for them in terms of healthcare, home care, therapy etc.
  • Learn about the common symptoms and their treatments.
  • Know what type of research is being conducted in their area.
  • Create meaningful connections with people going through the same experiences.
  • Develop coping strategies.

“ […] There is a lot of camaraderie that goes on and it’s nice to talk with other people about the condition and we enjoy belonging to the local branch of the Parkinson Society. And I would recommend to anybody else who gets the condition they do make the effort and join.” – Anonymous

Although some people prefer not to attend support-group meetings due to their fear of facing people whose symptoms have progressed more than theirs, or simply because they are not yet ready to discuss such issues face-to-face with others, there are many other alternatives in terms of gaining support from the ET or PD community.

Some people have found success in participating in online support groups, whether through discussion boards of established organizations, or simply through social media support groups (Facebook). We highly recommend you go online and search for the support that suits you best.

Other Support Groups & Resource:

Just choose your location from the options below, to see if there is an essential tremor support group operating in your community. Or you can check our events calendar. If not, please consider starting one! Chances are, with the millions of people around the globe affected by essential tremor, it is likely there will be others in your community who are also seeking support.

The International Essential Tremor Foundation Blog.

Many people find that support groups are tremendously effective in helping them cope with the day-to-day realities of having Parkinson’s disease. Groups come in different formats — from large, formal meetings to smaller “living-room” get-togethers — and you probably won’t be equally comfortable with or get the same benefit from all. If you don’t like the first group you find, it’s worth looking for one that suits you better. If you can’t find any you like in your area, consider starting one. If you are unsatisfied with the available options, it is likely that you’re not the only one feeling that way.

“Provides free, reliable information about health issues, by sharing people’s real-life experiences. You can watch people sharing their stories about cancer, autism, motor-neuron disease, pregnancy, drugs, depression and much more.”

Provides a variety of services throughout Arizona for people with Parkinson’s and their family members and caregivers, including:
– Education and training
– Information and assistance
– Recreational programs
– Counseling
– Respite
– Support groups

Local Support Groups in Toronto:

For those living in Toronto or in the neighbouring communities, we have compiled a list of potential sources support you might like:

“Parkinson Canada is the voice of Canadians living with Parkinson’s disease. From diagnosis to discovery. You can count on us to be there at every step of your Parkinson’s journey. We provide education and services to support you, your family and your health team, online, by telephone and in person.”

“With accurate and up-to-date information at your fingertips, can help you find the local health and social services you need.”

As always, Steadiwear is constantly seeking for new volunteer testers, at our offices in Toronto, Ontario. Check out our video of our latest tester to see what our test entails. If you are living a little further out why not fill in our survey & keep an eye out for our latest newsletter by subscribing here.



  1. Smeltere, L., Kuzņecovs, V., & Erts, R. (2017). Depression and social phobia in essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease. Brain and behavior, 7(9), e00781. doi:10.1002/brb3.781
  2. Louis ED, Machado DG. Tremor-related quality of life: a comparison of essential tremor vs. Parkinson’s disease patients. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. (2015) 21:729–35. 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2015.04.019
  3. Heusinkveld, L. E., Hacker, M. L., Turchan, M., Davis, T. L., & Charles, D. (2018). Impact of Tremor on Patients With Early Stage Parkinson’s Disease. Frontiers in neurology, 9, 628. doi:10.3389/fneur.2018.00628
  4. Artigas, N. R., Striebel, V., Hilbig, A., & Rieder, C. (2015). Evaluation of quality of life and psychological aspects of Parkinson’s disease patients who participate in a support group. Dementia & neuropsychologia, 9(3), 295-300.


Why Are My Hands Shaking?

It is quite impossible to keep your hands completely still and therefore to some degree everyone has a tremor (Harvard Health Publishing, 2015). The root cause of this shakiness is due to the tiny muscle fibers found within the hands and arms that are constantly contracting and resting (Piedmont healthcare, 2017). At times this involuntary movement may become imbalanced as some of the muscle groups may continue to contract instead of entering the resting phase setting the timing off (Piedmont healthcare, 2017).

The trick here is figuring out if this shakiness of the hand is normal or abnormal (Harvard Health Publishing, 2015).

““You know your body best,” says Dr. Etienne. “If you feel shaky after a couple cups of coffee or as you prep for a public speaking engagement, it may very well be the caffeine or adrenaline causing your shakiness, and there is no cause for alarm. But if you can’t control it, even when you aren’t using your hands, this might be a sign to seek your doctor’s advice”” (Piedmont healthcare, 2017).


There are a variety of conditions that contribute to hand tremors. Common causes of shaky hands include:

Anxiety. Anxiety takes on a form of a psychological tremor, involuntary muscle movement occurring within the body of a healthy person resulting in mechanical and nervous system interactions (Tomczak, Gajewski, & Mazur–Różycka, 2014).  When dealing with such strong emotions, nerves are heightened causing shaky hands usually due to significant feelings of anger, stress, tiredness or being anxious.

Lack of Sleep. When the body is deprived of sleep it may trigger neurological reflexes that can then result in shaky hands, irritation, mood change, and lack of concentration (Piedmont healthcare, 2017).  Sleep deprivation can also contribute to chronic physical health issues and increase risk for things such as weakened immunity, memory issues, and weight gain (Healthline, 2018).

Alcoholism. The consumption of too much alcohol can result in liver and other health problems such as an alcohol disorder. Alcohol affects everyone differently however, common changes include personality and behavioral change such as irritability and lack of motivation, change in daily regimes, shaky hands, and slurred speech (Nazario, 2018). Depending on the severity of one’s alcohol intake hand shaking can last for a few days to years to even a longer duration of time (Nazario, 2018).   

Liver Damage. Cirrhosis occurs at the end stage of chronic liver disease when there is severe damage caused to the liver resulting in liver scarring (Healthline, 2018a). Common causes are due to alcohol abuse and viral infections (Healthline, 2018a). Positive physical examination tests will show pale skin, yellow eyes (jaundice), hand tremors, reddened palms, an enlarged liver or spleen, and finally, small testicles (Healthline, 2018a).  

Low Blood Sugar (Hypoglycemia). As the blood sugar levels decline well below normal, the nerves and muscles are deprived of fuel causing a variety of different effects such as, shakiness of the hand, sweating, anxiety, hunger, irritability, pale skin, fatigue and irregular heart rhythm (Mayo Clinic, 2018). Keep in mind that the adrenaline system will instantly respond and therefore it will make the shakiness worse for the time being. Overall hypoglycemia is a good indicator that an underlying health problem exists in some cases (Stearn, 2014).  

Overactive Thyroid (Hyperthyroidism). Known to be more prevalent in women and in individuals in their 20s and 30s (Piedmont healthcare, 2017). Excess thyroid hormone being released into the body speeds up processes and can not only result in shakiness but also anxiety, nervousness, rapid heartbeat, sweating, sleeping issues and weight loss (Aleppo, 2018).


In 2007, Oprah Winfrey announced that she had a thyroid problem diagnosed as hypothyroidism (Gentile, 2017).

“ My body was turning on me. First hyperthyroidism, which sped up my metabolism and left me unable to sleep for days. (Most people lose weight. I didn’t.) Then hypothyroidism, which slowed down my metabolism and made me want to sleep all the time. (Most people gain weight. I did! Twenty pounds!)” (Parker-Pope, 2007).

Too Much Caffeine. If too much coffee, tea or chocolate is consumed it can result in shaky hands, feeling of jitters, anxiety, rapid heartbeat, stomach irritation and headaches especially if one has substance sensitivity (Zehr, 2017). Caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulate and when consumed in adequate amounts it makes the consumer more awake, energetic and alert (Zehr, 2017).

Essential Tremor. A nerve disorder causing uncontrolled shaking or tremors to different areas of the body. Most common areas of the body that are affected include arms, hands, larynx, tongue, head, and chin. In majority of cases lower body parts are not affected by this condition (WebMD, 2018).  A key aspect of essential tremors is that it produces more noticeable movements as the muscle fibers contracting and resting are synchronous oppose to contracting at random (Stearn, 2014).

Katharine Hepburn.png

“ The late “actress Katharine Hepburn is an extreme example of advanced essential tremor – it affected her voice, head and arms, as well as her hands,” Rezak notes. Playwright Eugene O’Neill also suffered from essential tremor. So does rocker J. Roddy Walston, of J. Roddy Walston & The Business, who became increasingly vocal about his condition in the band’s 2013 LP “Essential Tremors.”” (Colino, 2015).

Psychogenic Tremor (Functional Tremor).  Can come and go as any form of shakiness within the body. The tremor worsens during times of peak stress and declines or stops when distracted (Office of Communications and Public Liaison, 2018).  It is very common for individuals with psychogenic tremor to also have an underlying psychiatric disorder such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Office of Communications and Public Liaison, 2018).

Multiple Sclerosis (MS). An immune system targeting disease that affects the nerves, brain, spinal cord and causes shaky hands (WebMD, 2017). Essential tremors in the hand or foot are very common in MS and occur when one is already performing the act of moving (WebMD, 2017).

Jack Osbourne Son of the famous British rock star Ozzy Osbourne,  publicly announced having multiple sclerosis in 2012.

“Since his diagnosis, Osbourne’s motto is “Adapt and Overcome.” He uses the hashtag #Jackshaft on Twitter to talk about his experience with MS. “I will never say that I am thankful for MS,” he said in an open letter. “But I will say that without MS, I don’t know if I would have made the necessary changes in my life that have changed me for the better” (Healthline, 2018b).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A disorder where the brain reacts with excessive fear and nervousness even after one has already experienced or seen a traumatic or terrifying event, long after the original trauma event is over (Peterson, 2018). The brain reacts by staying in overdrive and in a state of hyper alertness for the next trauma (Peterson, 2018). This causes nervousness, jittering, and shaking (Peterson, 2018). Alternately, followed by a traumatic event, one can become numb and shut down their feelings and start to avoid certain situations that recall traumatic events. Other individuals can fall prey for depression, irritability, or risky behavior (Peterson, 2018).


Lady Gaga released an open letter to her fans talking about her battle with post-traumatic stress disorder.

She wrote: “I have wrestled for some time about when, how and if I should reveal my diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After five years of searching for the answers to my chronic pain and the change I have felt in my brain, I am finally well enough to tell you. There is a lot of shame attached to mental illness, but it’s important that you know that there is hope and a chance for recovery” (Hinde, 2017).

Parkinson’s Disease (PD). A less common condition in comparison to essential tremor. PD causes shakiness of the hand just as essential tremor but rather than causing difficulties in performing tasks the shaking of the hand is the worst when one is resting and not utilizing the hand (Stearn, 2014). The shakiness in Parkinson’s disease is referred to as ‘pill rolling’ this is because its similar to rolling a pill between one’s thumb and side of the index finger (Stearn, 2014).


In 1984, Muhammad Ali’s condition was officially diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease, three years after he retired from the professional boxing (Sawer, 2016).

“at the age of 38, tempted back into the ring by money and his love of the crowd, he suffered a terrible beating at the hands of Larry Holmes, his former sparring partner. In 1981 he took another pummelling, losing on points to Trevor Berbick before finally retiring for good. By now Ali’s physical deterioration was obvious. He suffered from permanent fatigue, his mouth drooled saliva and he developed a tremor in his hand” (Sawer, 2016).


Medications. Involuntary drug induced shakiness can occur as the nervous system and muscles respond to medication’s ingested (Medline Plus, 2018). Some common medications that can cause shaking include:

  • Excessive movement disorder medication (Tetrabenazine)
  • Cancer medicines (cytarabine and thalidomide)
  • Antidepressants (tricyclics and Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs))
  • Seizure medicines (sodium valproate and valproic acid)
  • Heart medications (procainamide and amiodarone)
  • Asthma medication (albuterol and theophylline)
  • Lithium (mood stabilizer)
  • Immune suppressing medicines (tacrolimus and cyclosporine
  • Stimulants (amphetamines and caffeine)  
  • Antibiotics
  • Nicotine
  • Weight loss/ bariatric medication (tiratricol)
  • Overactive thyroid medication (levothyroxine)
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Antivirals (vidarabine)
  • Epinephrine and norepinephrine

(Medline Plus, 2018)

There are many causes for shaky hands ranging from non-severe issues such as consuming too much coffee to more chronic issues such as essential tremors. Information provided is for educational purposes only and does not replace a licensed physician’s professional diagnosis, treatment or medical advice on your shaky hands problem.

Now Back To The Question, Do You Have Shaky Hands?

If so, you have come to the right place. Steadiwear has created an innovative solution to cater to your shaky hands.  Our Steadi-One glove can help reduce your shakiness, allowing you to better perform everyday tasks. Read more about the  Steadi-One.

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