Agitation symptoms, causes and treatment

Agitation is a normal reaction of a person. If you are stressed from work, stress, and some other reasons, you feel aggravated, annoyed, and restless. Others feel agitated when they are provoked by someone or by a situation.

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Agitation is normal if it happens once in a while. But if it happens to you often, and most of the time there is no reason behind, then that can be a sign of a medical or mental health problem. If you feel agitated regularly without knowing the reason, it is a big sign that you need to make an appointment with your doctor and talk about your condition. The doctor can help you understand your behavior and provide the right treatment for you.

Causes of Agitation

Agitation is one of the emotions that can be felt by a person. In most cases, a person does not have to worry if he feels agitated for a while. It can be a normal response to your environment or the people around you. 

The most common causes of agitation are:

  • stress from work or school – a person who is stressed from work or school can feel agitated easily. This is because they have been thinking about many things, and they cannot control their emotion. 
  • Feeling unwell – if you feel unwell or ill, you tend to react to your environment with agitation. A person who is sick cannot think logically; that’s why they tend to react carelessly. 
  • Burnout – when you feel burnout with something, you are losing control with your emotion, and you can lose control with your reaction
  • experiencing peer pressure – this is one of the top reasons why a person feels agitated. When you get pressured among your circle, you will have a troubled mind that can lose your emotion carelessly. 
  • Undergoing grief – most people who experience grief often stay quiet as much as possible because they don’t want to burst out and lose their emotions.

There are medical conditions that can cause agitation, as well. They are:

  • mood disorders or anxiety – different mood disorders can trigger agitation such as bipolar disorder or depression
  • hormonal imbalance – condition such as hypothyroidism can be the cause of agitation
  • alcohol dependence or withdrawal 
  • autism – agitation is very common for people who have diagnosed with autism
  • neurological disorders – in some rare cases, it can be due to brain tumors

Diagnosis and Treatment of Agitation

Talking to your doctor is the best way to treat this condition. The treatment plan that will be recommended to you will depend on the cause of the agitation. That’s why you must discuss your situation with your doctor before taking the next step.

Agitation caused by stress.

Stress is one of the leading causes of agitation, and to relieve this, your doctor will recommend some relaxation techniques such as:

  • an exercise that includes deep breathing
  • yoga
  • other meditative practices

Both meditation and deep breathing can restore the calmness of your mind. When you have a calm mind, you can reason, and you won’t feel irritated or agitated quickly. Regular exercise and engaging with different activities that you are interested in can also help in reducing your stress. 

Another way to reduce your stress is to determine the cause of your stress, whether it is someone or something, and limit your contact with them. In an instance, if you feel stressed with your load and responsibilities at work, talk to your direct supervisor and discuss your condition with him.

If those techniques mentioned above will not work, your doctor might recommend you to visit and talk to a psychotherapist. 

Agitation caused by health conditions

The common health conditions that can cause agitation are depression and bipolar disorder. Your doctor will recommend treatments such as talk therapy, medications, or a combination of the two. 

Agitation caused by hormonal imbalance

A hormonal imbalance will affect not only your body but also your behavior. If a hormonal imbalance causes your agitation, your doctor will recommend therapy for hormone replacement or other medications that can treat your condition. Some other doctors refer their patients to a hormone specialist, also known as an endocrinologist.

Agitation caused by a brain tumor

The recommended treatment for your brain tumor will depend on its type, size, and location. There are cases where chemotherapy is being advised to shrink the tumor. If it can be removed with surgery without any trouble, your doctor may refer you to a surgeon. But for some cases where the brain tumor can be dangerous to remove, you will be advised to monitor its growth or changes closely.

How can family and friends help?

The support and words of encouragement from those people you love will mean a lot when treating agitation. When you cannot find the reason why you feel agitated lately, one of your friends or family members might help you in identifying the possible cause. He or she can also provide an alternative response so you won’t end up feeling troubled with what happened. If you find it hard to decide whether to seek professional help or not, a support system can encourage you to do what is right for your situation. With those people you love and value, you can fight agitation and improve your behavior better.

What are the normal conditions of agitation

Most cases of agitation are being accompanied by depression. But there are other conditions where it features bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia, and many other conditions that may also include depression. 

Agitation also happens with those people who have cases of substance abuse disorder, autism, and personality disorder. There are a lot more conditions that can trigger agitation, and they are not only limited to mental or behavioral aspects.

An agitated person experiences many feelings that are often hard to explain. Without considering the causes of agitation, these are the reported feeling of an agitated person:

  • uneasy
  • restless
  • nervous
  • tense
  • unable to sit still
  • irritable
  • short-tempered
  • fidgety
  • wound up
  • overexcited
  • hostile
  • uncooperative
  • lacking in control
  • Talking excessively

The signs and symptoms of agitation can range from mild to severe. Talking to your doctor can help you control these symptoms and make your life better.

Bipolar Disorder

A person who has bipolar disorder may inhibit many symptoms, but the main sign of this condition is mood changes. The agitation has a link to this condition. 

When you have diagnosed with bipolar disorder, shifting from low to high mood is very normal. There are cases where you experience mixed emotions and hypomania. This is a high mood that is lesser than mania, and agitation is one of the symptoms of hypomania.


A patient who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia experiences disorganized thinking, delusions, agitated movements, and even hallucinations. 

Risks of Having Agitation

When you are agitated, you often get loose with your emotions and react negatively towards the people around you. If you feel agitated for a few minutes or hours, then there is nothing to worry about. But if you consistently feel it for days or weeks, it is an obvious sign that you have to talk to your doctor. Agitation can affect your daily routine and can bring impact to the different areas of your life.

  • Relationships – your family, friends, or partner may have difficulty in dealing with you if you feel restless, and they cannot talk to you with meaning. If you show agitation repeatedly, it can bring discomfort to those people who around you and you will have difficulty with connecting with them
  • Productivity in work or school – when you are agitated, you will find it hard to become productive with whatever you are doing. It will be hard to complete a task at work or academic requirements. If you continue showing agitation, your co-worker or classmates may find you inefficient and impossible to deal with.
  • Health – when a person experiences agitation, he might feel restless and disturbed at night, making them hard to sleep. The lack of sleep can be a cause of other health trouble. When this person seeks medical help, he will find it hard to explain the reason why he got sick, making it hard with the diagnoses and treatment of his condition. Other researches have shown that agitated people have a higher chance of suicidal attempts.

When to Seek Medical Attention

It is hard for someone to determine when they should seek medical help or attention when they experience agitation. One of the signs that you will need the assistance of a doctor or a medical professional is when you feel agitated, and you don’t know the reason/s behind. Another situation that will tell you to contact your doctor is when you feel agitated more often, and it is lasting for days or weeks.

In the worst cases, you need to seek help immediately if you find yourself thinking about suicide, or you are hurting yourself. Reach out and talk to your family, friend, or medical professional so you can ease your feeling and determine the right treatment for you.