Send to

Choose Destination
J Clin Psychiatry. 2000;61 Suppl 14:5-10.

The pathophysiology of agitation.

Author information

Manhattan Psychiatric Center-Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, New York, NY 10035, USA.


Agitation is a nonspecific constellation of relatively unrelated behaviors that can be seen in a number of different clinical conditions, usually presenting a fluctuating course. Multiple underlying pathophysiologic abnormalities are mediated by dysregulations of dopaminergic, serotonergic, noradrenergic, and GABAergic systems. Pathophysiologic mechanisms of agitation that operate in the different clinical disorders where agitation occurs are discussed. These pathophysiologic abnormalities are not associated with distinct clinical features. Although there may be a final common pathway, there is no unifying etiologic pathophysiology. The author suggests that the clinician address the underlying pathophysiology through a treatment intervention that addresses the overarching psychiatric disorder. Generally, agents that reduce dopaminergic or noradrenergic tone or increase serotonergic or GABAergic tone will attenuate agitation, often irrespective of etiology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
Loading ...
Support Center