Cause

Agitation can be the cause of a psychiatric emergency. This is a condition that is often caused by a psychological disorder and that requires immediate action to avoid a risk to life or other serious consequences. It requires immediate treatment focusing on the acute symptoms. The exact processes of agitation have not yet been fully investigated. However it is assumed that it is caused by abnormalities in the brain’s neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine and others).

Symptoms

Symptoms include increased restlessness, wringing of the hands, clenching hands into fists, talking quickly and hurriedly, shouting or threatening other people. The degree of escalation of the patient’s agitation is unpredictable.

Diagnosis

Agitation (states of irritability, restlessness and tensions) is an acute, severe and pathological complication of many chronic psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and mania. Psychomotor agitation is defined as excess motor activity coupled with a feeling of inner anxiety.

Patients describe agitation as a feeling of inner distress (they feel nervous, restless, overwhelmed, out of control, in fear, in panic). It leads to an externally recognised dysfunctional state and manifests itself in swearing, hostility, lack of impulse control, uncooperative behaviour and a greater propensity to violence.

Acute agitation in psychiatric disorders contributes significantly to the continued stigmatisation of psychiatric disorders.

Everyday life

Agitation is commonplace among patients, particularly in those with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. It should be treated as early and as effectively as possible to prevent any escalation in potentially dangerous behaviour such as violence.

Acute agitation in psychological disorders often leads to considerable stress for patients and their relatives. Patients admitted to the emergency room often pose a serious threat to themselves and others.