Intense feelings and behaviors that often appear as excitement or extreme restlessness. In general, agitation can be a sign of many conditions including psychosis and age-related dementia. Agitation in Parkinson’s disease can occur as a consequence of the disease’s progression (as a function of DEMENTIA and COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT), a reaction to frustration and lack of understanding about changes taking place, or an adverse effect of medication. More often than not, the cause is a combination of these factors.
Cognitive function serves as a gatekeeper of sorts between thoughts or feelings and behavior. Structure and routine in everyday activities help a person with diminishing cognition to maintain familiarity. Responding calmly and with soothing words and actions can help restore a sense of order when there are disruptions of routine.
Many anti-parkinson’s medications can cause agitation; they are more likely to do so as the disease becomes more advanced and doses must be increased to maintain symptom control. anti-cholinergic medications are often responsible. Often adjusting the dose or switching to different adjunct therapies can mitigate agitation and other side effects of medications. Sometimes persistent agitation is a signal that the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease is incorrect. This is something to suspect if the person’s response to levodopa has been less than expected or if stopping levodopa ends agitation.
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