Psychomotor Agitation

Psychomotor Agitation - An Overview

Psychomotor agitation is a state of inner tension and restlessness, often accompanied by physical movements such as wringing hands, pacing or an inability to sit still. It is associated with a strong feeling of distress and anxiety. People who experience this type of agitation often have difficulty concentrating and are easily distracted. It is not uncommon for individuals to feel physically exhausted yet have difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep.

Psychomotor agitation can be a sign of an underlying mental health issue, such as major depression or bipolar disorder, or a side effect of certain medications. It is important to note that people who experience agitation may be at an increased risk for suicide.

Signs and Symptoms of Psychomotor Agitation

Psychomotor agitation can be identified by a variety of physical and behavioral signs and symptoms, including:

  • Restlessness or pacing
  • Fidgeting, wringing of hands, or tapping feet
  • Impatience or irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Talking too much or too fast
  • Use of vulgar language or inappropriate gestures

It is important to differentiate psychomotor agitation from hyperactivity. Psychomotor agitation is generally characterized by slower and more purposeful movements, while hyperactivity is more rapid and less purposeful.

Treatment of Psychomotor Agitation

Treatment for psychomotor agitation can involve both medications and psychotherapy. Psychoactive medications known as atypical antipsychotics can be effective in treating agitation related to underlying mental health issues. In addition, anxiolytics, or anti-anxiety medications, can help relieve the distress associated with the symptoms of agitation. Psychotherapy can also be beneficial, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, to identify and modify the behaviors contributing to agitation.