Daily Archives: November 26, 2012

Talk About Restlessness…

So, for years I have experienced something that I haven’t been able to name.

Corey put a good label on it one day when he asked if I was feeling agitated, and though I wasn’t sure of the exact definition of the word agitated, it seemed to fit. It didn’t seem like the best description of what I was feeling, but it was better than no word at all.

This type of restlessness or agitation is one of the symptoms triggered from time to time for me that really makes my skin crawl. It is overwhelmingly uncomfortable, as if my body is screaming out in pain all over, and the only thing that seems to help is by constantly shifting my weight, and flexing as many muscles as I possibly can.

Well, come to find out, there’s a proper name for that.

Word of the day:

Akathisia. [ak′əthē′zhə]

“Agitated or restless movement, usually affecting the legs and accompanied by a sense of discomfort.”

I realize this definition from medical-dictionary.com doesn’t have much more to offer than what I’ve already said, so how about another one from the same place saying;

“Antsiness Neurology Motor restlessness ranging from a feeling of inner disquiet to inability to sit still or lie quietly, accompanied by a sensation of muscular quivering, and an urge to be in constant motion, a common extrapyramidal effect of neuroleptics/antipsychotics.”

The reason I found this word, akathisia, at all was after doing a search on Geodon (an antipsychotic) and it popping up all over the place. Apparently it can be a side effect of many neuroleptics or antipsychotics, but personally I have only experienced it without the “help” of these types of drugs.

I had a particularly hard time with it as a child and teenager, I couldn’t sleep very well because I was constantly feeling restless and like my legs (in particular) were hurting if I didn’t move them around in bed. I’ve found that stretching or rapidly pointing my toes in various directions, in that situation, helped to some degree, so that is what I do now and it seems to help me get to sleep faster.

More recently in my adult life, however, and in my teen years after bipolar symptoms started to show themselves, the feeling has been more widespread. I’ve had pain up and down my body that felt like little bolts of lightening, or feeling like each of my muscles had been strained after a long workout and kept tightening and releasing on their own.

The feeling of akathisia (for me) comes mostly at night, and more often in manic or mixed states (mixed being the primary time it pops up). It has also been a factor in situations where I have been unbelievably anxious, and about a year ago I made something of a breakthrough when I had my ER trip after a massive anxiety attack that rendered me feeling somewhat paralyzed and twitchy. The twitchiness reminded me of other instances of akathisia, so I drew a firm conclusion that it can be related to anxiety for me.

I have also known several people who had a seeming inability to stand or sit still, and would either rock back and forth, or march in pace, or just be constantly on the move. Apparently that is also akathisia, and can range anywhere from doing this on a constant basis, to only when other people are around, to fairly frequently (like me) to not at all. Like anything else, this is a symptom with a range of severity.

To be honest, sometimes I don’t pursue learning words like this one because I become worried I will get too wrapped up in the medical jargon sorts of terms that make it difficult for most people to understand what the heck I am trying to say. This one, however, seemed like a good one, since it is something I have experienced for so long and never had a real name to call it until now.

I find myself curious, now that I have a name for this symptom’s ugly face, has anyone else experienced akathisia? And if you have, in what way has it manifested itself for you? Has it ever seemed directly correlated with a medication you’ve taken, or was it triggered by something else?