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10 Things You Don’t Know About Psychomotor Agitation

10 Things You Don’t Know About Psychomotor Agitation

Psychomotor agitation is a behavioral and psychological symptom that equates to nervous energy. People experiencing it may feel as if they have an emotion that movement won't get out. These people may be unable to sit still or remain calm. They may pace around back and forth, tap their fingers or feet, and may not be able to finish their thoughts or sentences. Psychomotor agitation is not well measured or defined even within the medical community. Those experiencing this symptom may complain of a head bursting or cramped with thoughts and general emotional distress

What Is Psychomotor Agitation?

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It is a feeling of internal restlessness that typically causes someone to make unintentional, repetitive, or purposeless movements. Increased anxiety and mental tension may lead to an increase in feelings of inner restlessness. In response, someone may engage in movement without purpose. Inner restlessness and mental anxiety are expressed physically through movements. In some cases, psychomotor agitation may not be considered present if it presents with inner restlessness but not motor activity.

According to the ICD-10, some synonyms for psychomotor agitation are the following:

  • Agitated wandering
  • Aimless movement
  • Aimless overactivity
  • Constant movement
  • Continuously shifting in while seated
  • Feeling agitated 
  • Fidgeting
  • Pacing back and forth/up and down
  • Restlessness
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Squirming 
  • Stress and adjustment reaction
  • Stress reaction with psychomotor agitation
  • Wandering

10 Things You Need to Know about Psychomotor Agitation

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1. Adverse Feelings Are Frequently Associated with Psychomotor Agitation

2. There Are Many Behavioral Manifestations of Psychomotor Agitation

3. People Experiencing This Symptom May Have a Particular Behavioral Style Associated with Their Movements

4. In Severe Cases, People with Psychomotor Agitation May Inflict Harm on Themselves

5. People Experiencing This Symptom May Be Hypersensitive and Alert around Others

6. It Is Not Always Associated with Mental Tension and Anxiety

7. Changes in Motor Activity Can Point to Change in an Underlying Mental Condition

8. There Are Many Causes of Psychomotor Agitation

9. Psychomotor Agitation Presents Most Commonly in Bipolar Disorder

10. This Symptom Can Be Difficult to Deal with By Using Relaxation Techniques Alone 

Treatment of Psychomotor Agitation

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Treatment may include prescription medication and a range of specific therapy practices such as learning emotional regulation skills. With the right treatment, psychomotor agitation can be managed. If you or someone you care about is experiencing this symptom, it is important that you talk with a doctor or mental health professional who can provide the right kind of treatment. If treatment is not sought at the onset of symptoms, symptoms can worsen over time, becoming increasingly distressing or even violent in nature.

If the agitation is caused by depression or mania, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics may be prescribed to help control it. Sometimes, medications such as antipsychotics can actually cause agitation. If that is the case, a new medication will be prescribed. If the underlying cause of the agitation is psychosis, benzodiazepines have been known to help in conjunction with antipsychotics. Importantly, benzodiazepines should not be taken without an antipsychotic in psychotic disorders. In hospitals, the typical treatment for acute agitation is haloperidol with lorazepam.


Psychomotor agitation is the physical expression of anxiety and mental tension. These movements happen in response to an increase in feelings of restlessness due to heightened anxiety. Internal pressure drives external movement. It is a symptom of depressive, hypomanic or manic, and mixed episodes in mood disorders.

Psychomotor agitation, as a symptom, is subject to the mood episode in which it occurs. It may occur with emotional distress but not always. People experiencing this symptom experience it as occurring unintentionally as if on a subconscious level. The underlying feelings are often experienced as much more distressing than the unintentional movements they influence. This may be intolerable to the sufferer. As such, it is important to talk to a doctor if you are experiencing mental health issues such as agitation.

Last update on 2021-10-19 at 09:42 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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