Agitated depression (complete guide)

In this brief guide, we will discuss Agitated depression and its symptoms. We will present to you what can cause agitated depression, and how it can be diagnosed.

We will also let you know the treatments for agitated depression.

What is agitating or agitated depression?

Agitated depression is a low mood involving a combination of anxiety and depression.

Agitated depression is also known as “melancholia agitate” or “mixed state.” People with Bipolar disorder can have this too. 

It can be seen in people with motivated personality types, as well. “For people who are activated by mood, that increased energy can turn into a negative direction,” says Gianni Faedda, a psychiatrist at the Mood Disorders Center of New York. 

Agitated depression symptoms

Agitated depression has the following symptoms:

  • Agitation – a state of anxiety or nervous excitement,
  • Anger – strong uncomfortable, adverse response to a perceived hurt, threat or provocation,
  • Restlessness – the inability to stay still,
  • Sadness – feelings of loss, disappointment, grief, helplessness,
  • Emptiness – a sense of apathy, boredom and social alienation,
  • Hopelessness – is expressed by a lack of hope, optimism, and passion,
  • Self-criticism – in psychology this is a negative personality trait, where a person has a distorted self-identity,
  • Compulsive talking – goes beyond the socially acceptable bounds,
  • Racing thoughts – fast-moving, repetitive thought patterns,
  • Irritability – respond to changes in the environment,
  • Nail-biting – a sign of anxiety, worry,
  • Skin picking – compulsive picking, pulling, scratching the skin,
  • Pacing – walking back and forth,
  • Fidgeting – an inability to sit still, making small movements with hands or feet,
  • Hand-wringing – clasping together or squeezing hands,
  • Pulling at clothes or hair.

It is also possible that people with agitated depression experience insomnia, suicidal thoughts, some psychotic symptoms.

“They cannot stand still, and they are amped. This person also reports low mood and depressed mood. This can be a critical moment: The agitation is screaming for attention. They cannot sleep. They cannot see standstill. That freaks people out,” says Alex Dimitriu, a psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist at Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine in the San Francisco Bay Area.

What are the causes of agitated depression?

The causes of agitated depression are:

  • Anxiety disorders,
  • Long-term stress,
  • Traumatic events,
  • Hormonal disbalances,
  • Bipolar disorder,
  • Hypothyroidism.

In some cases, agitation may be a side effect of the medication used to treat depression.

Means, sometimes depression medications, cause agitated depression.

If you notice increased anxiety, you should talk to your doctor to change the medication for depression.

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Diagnosis of agitated depression

A psychiatrist can give a diagnosis of agitated depression.

Talk therapy can be used, your blood test may be requested to exclude, for example, hormonal disbalances.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders claims that a diagnosis of agitated depression can be given if:

  • You have had at least one major depressive episode,
  • You have at least two of these symptoms:
  • Racing thoughts,
  • Psychic agitation or intense inner tension,
  • Physical symptoms of agitation and restlessness or psychomotor agitation.

Treatment for agitated depression

There are two main treatments for agitated depression:

  1. Medication,
  2. Psychotherapy.

Treatment by medication

The medications used to treat agitated depression are:

  • Antidepressants,
  • Mood stabilizers,
  • Antianxiety medications.

The doctor could prescribe any medication listed under the below categories.

Treatment by psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is usually used to treat mood disorders. The therapist can teach you some techniques to manage and reduce the symptoms.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy, in general, is helpful for people with agitated depression.

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FAQs about agitated depression

What causes agitation?

Medical conditions that can cause agitation to include:

– Alcoholism,

– Anxiety or mood disorders,

– Autism,

– Neurological disorders, 

– Hypothyroidism or other conditions that cause hormonal disbalances.

How is agitation treated?

Agitation may be eased by neuroleptics or antipsychotics like Abilify, Zyprexa, Haldol, Risperdal, Geodon, and Seroquel.

They are usually used to treat paranoia and confusion.

Does anxiety cause agitation?

Anxiety can cause agitation. Mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder also can cause it.

What are the signs of agitation?

The signs of agitation are:

– Anger,

– Anxiety,

– Irritability,

– Excessive talking,

– Impulsive or disruptive behaviour,

– Fidgeting,

– Pacing,

– Hand wringing or clenching the fists.

What mental illness causes excessive talking?

Logorrhea causes excessive talking. It is a communication disorder and sometimes can lead to incoherency.

Why do I get so agitated?

If you get agitated, you should be aware of its causes, which are:

– Autism,

– Alcoholism,

– Hypothyroidism

– Anxiety or mood disorders,

– Neurological disorders (in rare cases, brain tumours).


In this brief guide, we learned that agitated depression is a low mood involving a combination of anxiety and depression.

We also learned about its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatments.

Please feel free to comment on the content or ask any questions in the comments section below.


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