ACATHISIA (AKATHISIA, AKATIZIA): Definition, History and Further Reading

Acathisia (also known as akathisia or akatizia) is a disorder of motor control that involves a sense of inner restlessness or agitation. It is typically characterized by an inability to remain still, as well as psychological distress, such as anxiety and dysphoria. Acathisia has been linked to antipsychotic treatment, although it can also be seen in a variety of other disorders.

The term ‘acathisia’ was first used by German neurologist Carl Westphal in 1871 to describe a symptom related to movement. He used the term to refer to an inability to remain still, which was associated with anxiety and dysphoria. Since then, the term has been used to describe a variety of conditions that involve restlessness and motor control.

Acathisia has been linked to antipsychotic treatment, although it can also be seen in a variety of other disorders. Antipsychotic medications can induce acute forms of acathisia in some individuals, which can lead to a worsening of symptoms. The prevalence of acathisia in individuals taking antipsychotics is estimated to be between 10-25%. The onset of symptoms can range from a few days to several weeks after treatment. It is important to note that the risk of developing acathisia increases with higher doses of antipsychotics.

Acathisia is often associated with other psychiatric symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and irritability. It can also be seen in other disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Tourette’s syndrome. It is important to note that acathisia can be difficult to diagnose, as it can be mistaken for other disorders.

In order to diagnose acathisia, it is important to assess the individual’s motor control, as well as their psychological distress. It is also important to consider the individual’s medical history and any medications that they are taking. Treatment for acathisia can involve pharmacological approaches, such as reducing the dose of antipsychotics, as well as non-pharmacological approaches, such as psychotherapy and exercise.

For further reading, please refer to the following articles:

Beaulieu, S., & Chouinard, G. (2006). Akathisia: clinical features, pathophysiology and management. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 51(1), 6-13.

Kane, J. M., & Leckman, J. F. (2000). Akathisia: mechanisms and management. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 61(3), 169-176.

Lam, D. H. (2016). Akathisia and restlessness associated with antipsychotic drug treatment. The Lancet Psychiatry, 3(6), 522-534.

Seo, J. H., & Lee, Y. S. (2016). Akathisia: an update. Korean Journal of Psychopharmacology, 27(1), 1-12.

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