Are the words fidgeting and wobbling related

What is meant by agitation (agitation)?

Agitation can express itself, among other things, in the fact that the person concerned cannot sit still and is constantly walking up and down.

The terms agitation or agitation are used in medicine Symptom complex which expresses itself in restlessness and the feeling of being driven or rushed.

Doctors also speak of one psychomotor arousalwhen inner restlessness manifests itself in hasty, erratic and aimless body movements.

What is psychomotricity?

Under Psychomotor one understands the influence of the psyche on all voluntary and involuntary movements of the human organism. This includes movements of arms and legs, expressive movements (facial expressions, gestures), reactive movements (movements in response to external stimuli) and posture. Jerks, muscle tremors, and tics are also of psychomotor origin.

Psychomotor disorders can occur in many psychiatric illnesses, either in the form of a sedentary lifestyle (Hypokinesia) or increased physical activity (Hyperkinesia).

Experts define agitation in different ways

Although there is a lot of literature on the subject of agitation, there is no uniform definition. The following interpretations of the state of arousal can be found in the specialist literature1 :

  • “... diffuse increase in physical movements such as fidgeting, rapid and rhythmic tapping movements of the legs or hands, jerky" start-and-stop "movements that are accompanied by inner tension. Agitation is also often associated with a general increase in pace "2.
  • “... a poorly organized state of non-targeted motor restlessness, which is accompanied by mental tension and occurs with physical (somatic) or psychiatric illnesses3.
  • "... inappropriate verbal, linguistic or motor activity that cannot be explained by clear needs or confusion in itself"4

in the official classification system of the APA (American Psychiatric Association), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, restlessness (arousel), arousal and psychomotor restlessness are used synonymously in this sense5.

What is the difference between agitation and nervousness?

Most people are familiar with a feeling of restlessness in a weakened form. For example, when someone cannot sit still while waiting for an exam. The examinee nervously nibbles his fingernails. He keeps getting up and walking back and forth in the hallway until it's finally his turn.

In contrast, agitated behavior is more extreme and stressful for the person concerned and his environment. The type and extent of movement patterns or sequences can vary greatly depending on the disease. An agitated patient often appears "like under power". He shifts back and forth in his chair, tugs or tugs at his clothes, rocks his legs. As if driven, he keeps getting up and walking aimlessly up and down, sometimes for hours. Some people carry things back and forth or move cupboards out and back in again. Others seem perplexed or desperate, they whine or cry and keep repeating certain sentences or questions. This is especially difficult for relatives to endure if the person affected is irritable, aggressive and violent.

A pronounced agitation can lead to a life-threatening situation for the person concerned and his environment and should therefore be like a medical emergency be treated.


1Kasper S, Baranyi A, Eisenburger P, Treatment of agitation in a psychiatric emergency. Consensus Statement - State of the art 2013. CliniCum neuropsy special edition November 2013
2Kaplan HI, Sadock BJ, eds. Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry. 1995
3Battaglia J. Pharmacological management of acute agitation. Drugs. 2005; 65 (9): 1207-22
4Cohen-Mansfield J. Measurement of Inappropriate Behavior Associated with Dementia. J Gerontol Nurs. 1999; 25 (2): 42-51
5American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association; 2013