The most important way to deal with agitation is to find and treat the cause. Agitation may lead to an increased risk of suicide and other forms of violence.
After treating the cause, the following measures can reduce agitation:
A calm environment
Enough lighting during the day and darkness at night
Medicines such as benzodiazepines, and in some cases, antipsychotics
Plenty of sleep
DO NOT physically hold back an agitated person, if possible. This usually makes the problem worse. Use restraints only if the person is at risk of harming themselves or others, and there is no other way to control the behavior.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your provider for agitation that:
Lasts a long time
Is very severe
Occurs with thoughts or actions of hurting yourself or others
Occurs with other, unexplained symptoms
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your provider will take a medical history and do a physical examination. To better understand your agitation, your provider may ask you specific things about your agitation.
Tests may include:
Blood tests (such as a blood count, infection screening, thyroid tests, or vitamin levels)
American Psychiatric Association website. Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. In: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013:87-122.
Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.