What is akathisia?

Akathisia is an extremely distressing neurological disorder that most often causes severe agitation, an inability to remain still, and an overwhelming sense of terror. It primarily occurs as a medication side effect or withdrawal syndrome and is so torturous that it can lead to suicide. Akathisia is far more common than has been reported in the past and remains dangerously under-recognized, under-diagnosed and under-reported today.1

“There are two sides to akathisia. One is outer restlessness that you can observe, but the other, much more important one, is an extraordinary state of terror inside a person” ~ Joseph Glenmullen, M.D.

At least 100 members of one akathisia support group have died by suicide since 2018, and thousands of people in support groups are fighting for their lives today. Yet, the majority of clinicians know little to nothing about akathisia.

The Problem

“Akathisia is commonly overlooked or misdiagnosed by clinicians” (Demir, Sancaktar, Altindag, 2021).2

“Akathisia is generally underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed” (Lohr, et al., 2015).3

“Akathisia is often unrecognized or misdiagnosed” (Dauner & Blair, 1990).4

“Failure to identify akathisia can have catastrophic implications, since increasing severity of akathisia has been linked to the emergence and/or worsening of suicidal ideation, aggression, and violence” (Salem, et al., 2016).5

Akathisia is a suicide-prevention emergency.

“I developed this condition called akathisia. The experience was intolerably dreadful. There were lots of times, plenty of times, when it would have been preferable just not to be there.” ~ Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

Who are we?

The “Akathisia Alliance for Education and Research” is a nonprofit organization formed by people who have experienced it. Our members include physicians, nurses, biochemists, psychologists, college professors, and others who have survived akathisia, suicidality, and devastating personal losses due, in part, to a lack of awareness by medical professionals. We have come together from all walks of life to battle these things we all have in common, so we can help prevent them from happening to others.

If you have had akathisia and would like to become a member of the Akathisia Alliance, please register here:

References

1. Salem, H., Nagpal, C., Pigott, T., & Teixeira, A. L. (2017). Revisiting Antipsychotic-induced Akathisia: Current Issues and Prospective Challenges. Current Neuropharmacology, 15(5) 

2. Demir, B., Sancaktar, M., & Altindag, A. (2021). Lithium-Induced Treatment-Resistant Akathisia: A Case Report and Literature Overview. Clinical neuropharmacology, 44(3), 112–113. https://doi.org/10.1097/WNF.0000000000000453

3. Lohr, J. B., Eidt, C. A., Abdulrazzaq Alfaraj, A., & Soliman, M. A. (2015). The clinical challenges of akathisia. CNS spectrums, 20 Suppl 1, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1092852915000838

4. Dauner, A., & Blair, D. T. (1990). Akathisia. When treatment creates a problem. Journal of psychosocial nursing and mental health services, 28(10), 13–18. https://doi.org/10.3928/0279-3695-19901001-05

5. Salem, H., Nagpal, C., Pigott, T., & Teixeira, A. L. (2017). Revisiting Antipsychotic-induced Akathisia: Current Issues and Prospective Challenges. Current neuropharmacology, 15(5), 789–798. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159X14666161208153644