Agitated Depression

Agitated depression is a type of depression that involves symptoms like restlessness and anger. People who experience this type of depression usually don’t feel lethargic or slowed down, instead, they feel a combination of depression and anxiety.

It may be more helpful to think of it as a symptom of depression rather than as depression.

Central to the condition is the sense that although many people experience symptoms such as feeling slowed down and lethargic when they are depressed, others may experience just the opposite. They may feel anger, agitation, and irritability, this is what “agitated depression” refers to.

In many cases, the symptoms are part of a broader environmental and behavioural story. Agitation is often a feature of addiction, part of continually doing things that reduce our emotional stability. This means that when we can get on top of the problem of addiction we see a reduction in the agitation.

Causes of Agitated Depression

It took me a long time to realise that my agitation and restlessness were part of a depression, that it was part of the rhythm of the way I became unsettled and more emotionally unstable. Now I can recognise the signs. Now I can spot when I am starting to obsess and fixate on things and generally becoming more anxious. Knowing this changed everything for me. At first, I think I avoided looking at it more closely, I would just get caught in the agitation. Now I have worked out how to get on top of it. I can look after myself better.

Anonymous client

Relationships, Anxiety and Agitation

Often the experience of falling in love can provoke all kinds of obsessional agitation. For some of us, love relationships trigger very old anxious and agitating reactions that relate to our earliest attachments. Instead of feeling safe and secure, we have a heightened sense of agitation. In the grip of what is sometimes referred to as retroactive jealousy, we may become increasingly obsessed with doubts and suspicions about our partner. Until we find a way to understand that our distress is part of our histories, rather than anything to do with our new love relationship, the agitation is likely to continue.

It is common to go through periods of feeling irritated and agitated by things, but sometimes such feelings lead to agitation, to distress and disturbance. They can affect anyone, regardless of age, ethnic background, or social status.  

Psychological concepts tend to have long histories, in the past, agitated depression used to be called “melancholia agitata.” It’s now sometimes referred to as “mixed mania” or “mixed features”, and it can be seen in a variety of presentations and so can lead to various diagnoses.

What might the Agitation be linked to?

Sometimes decisions and actions we have been forced to make, particularly in difficult and pressured moments can come back to agitate and unsettle us. We like to think that we can leave things in the past, out of sight out of mind, but often things are not so simple.

In such cases the agitation, restlessness, and distress that we feel, and the related symptoms that we develop, turn out to be the after-effects of an earlier conflict.

We might think of the agitation as our conscience talking to us. In such cases finding a confidential space to talk can help us to see how our agitation is part of a bigger story. Once we make the link between the symptom and the cause we may start to find ways to settle it.

Recognising the signs of agitation, and knowing what to do when those symptoms appear can be helpful to people with mood disorders.

Psychotherapy and Agitated Depression

When we are caught up in bouts of obsessive and agitated thoughts and feelings it becomes hard to get perspective on the problem. The more we question ourselves, the more we agitate ourselves. Psychotherapy can provide a confidential space to work on the problem.

By giving yourself a safe space to look at these things you may start to discover a greater sense of possibilities, and this may be the beginning of developing a greater sense of understanding how to relate to yourself and others, how to start living more fully again, and how to start to have healthy relationships with yourself and other people.

Problems related to Agitated Depression

The term agitated depression is often applied to depressive disorders in which agitation is prominent. Agitation may occur in many severe depressive disorders but in agitated depression, it is more severe. Agitated depression is seen more commonly among the middle-aged and elderly than among younger patients.

Other problems related to agitation can include problems with appetite, with sleeping and with sex. Depressive illnesses tend to have a cumulative effect and so over time more areas of life become problematic, so relationships and work performance start to suffer.

Contact me

Having the chance to speak in a confidential setting is often the key to developing a clearer understanding of our problems and how they have developed. Being able to speak openly often has the effect of helping to settle our agitation and distress.

The chance to reflect on ourselves, our feelings and experience can be powerful and transformative. Out of this, you may be able to develop a clearer understanding of how you and your sense of your problems have developed, and what you can change.

I have been working with people on issues such like this for more than twenty years.  My work is built around helping you to develop greater insight into who you are, and how you live. 

Contact me to arrange a free telephone consultation to discuss how my approach might help you.


Email: toby@tobyingham.com