What causes agitation? 44 possible conditions
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Agitation is a feeling of aggravation or restlessness brought on by provocation or a medical condition.
It is normal for people to feel agitated from time to time. It is often a direct result of everyday stresses caused by work or school. However, if you have agitation that seems to occur for no reason, you should make an appointment to have it checked out by your doctor.
Agitation is a feeling experienced by everyone at least once in their lives. It is a normal emotion. In the majority of cases, it is not a cause for worry or concern.
Some common causes for agitation include:
- work stress
- feeling ill
- peer pressure
- school stress
When it is short-lived, agitation does not usually lead to significant complications. However, certain medical conditions can cause agitation. These include:
- anxiety disorders
- disorders or conditions that cause imbalances in your hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen
- mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia
In some rare cases, a tumor—an abnormal growth—that is located in the brain can cause changes in your mood and attitude, such as unprovoked agitation.
Autistic children may also experience agitation if they are around the things that trigger them, such as bright colors or loud noises.
During your appointment, your doctor will try to determine if your agitation is caused by a mental health disorder or a medical condition.
He or she will ask questions concerning your medical history and lifestyle. Then, he or she may take a blood sample to test for certain hormone levels.
If your doctor does not suspect a medical condition, he or she will refer you to a mental health specialist. This mental health specialist will go over your symptoms and your everyday activities, in order to determine a cause for the agitation.
If the cause still remains unknown, more in-depth testing may be necessary. You may need a computed tomography (CT) scan or a MRI of your head. Your doctor may also order a spinal tap or urine test.
Agitation is often a treatable symptom.
If a medical condition is affecting how hormones are released from your brain, your hormone levels can generally be corrected through the use of certain medications. In some cases, this medication will need to be taken over an extended amount of time. These types of treatments are often prescribed to women going through menopause or people with imbalances in their thyroid glands.
Abnormal Growth in the Brain
A brain tumor that causes agitation will be treated according to its size and location. If the tumor is too difficult to remove with surgery, your doctor may choose to carefully monitor the growth. In some cases, he or she may use an aggressive treatment method, such as chemotherapy, to shrink it. If the growth can be removed safely, your doctor will refer you to a surgeon to perform the procedure.
Agitation caused by mental illnesses can be treated in therapy. In a typical therapy session, you will go over your symptoms and develop efficient ways to deal with them. If therapy is not helping in your particular case, you may have to take a medication to help you to stay calm. These medications may be taken over a long course of time, or only when you feel agitated.
Agitation caused by stress at work or school may be relieved through deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing can help restore calm in that it allows you to focus on breathing rather than the situations causing you to feel agitated.
You may also discuss your stress with your boss or teacher to see if there are effective ways to reduce it. If you feel you are being overworked, discuss it with your supervisor. This may help you to feel less agitated.
Some people find meditation to be a soothing practice for relaxation and combating agitation. Meditation is also particularly helpful in preventing agitation.
- Complicated Grief Syndrome. (2011). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/complicated-grief/ds01023/dsection=symptoms:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder. (2011). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/generalized-anxiety-disorder/ds00502/dsection=symptoms:
- Mood Swings and Irritability. (n.d.). Women to Women. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.womentowomen.com/understandyourbody/symptoms/moodswings.aspx:
- Stress: How to Cope Better With Life’s Challenges. (2010). American Academy of Family Physicians. Retrieved July 24, 2012, from http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention-wellness/emotional-wellbeing/mental-health/stress-how-to-cope-better-with-lifes-challenges.printerview.all.html:
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