Agitation Drowsiness Sedation

Agitation Explained

Agitation is a feeling of irritation or anxiety and can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. It’s quite normal to experience this when something important is going on in your life. For instance, it could be due to an argument with your partner or simply work pressure. In such a state, you could feel anxious – even when there’s no stress in your life. Medically, this is described as feeling anxious, worried or nervous about a situation over which you have no control. It is a common condition amongst drug abusers and addicts.Agitation can cause intense, physical and psychological reactions, with signs and symptoms often difficult to recognise. It can manifest in two ways: physical and psychological.

Some common signs of agitation include:

  • An extreme desire for control
  • Ignoring stress (both physical and mental)
  • Strong need for approval
  • Perfectionism
  • Fear

Confronting Agitation

Your doctor may carry out tests to determine the underlying cause of your agitation and recommend the treatment for confronting it. In most cases, therapy to reduce stress is recommended. In other cases, you may need to take medication, either on a temporary or permanent basis.

Haloperidolis a common drug used to confront agitation. You should be careful when using it, as it has often been cited as a substance of abuse and addiction.Treatment for addiction and agitation is known as dual diagnosis. A reputable rehabilitation facility will include dual diagnosis treatment that can confront both issues simultaneously.


Sedation is the process of reducing agitation by administering sedative drugs to patients. It is usually undertaken to expedite the treatment procedure. The following are examples of sedatives:

  • Propofol
  • Ketamine
  • Isoflurane
  • Etomidate
  • Midazolam
  • Lorazepam
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Levels of Sedation

Light Sedation This is a drug-induced state, during which you can still respond normally when communicating verbally. Usually, cognitive function and coordination are briefly disabled, but cardiovascular function and breathing are unaffected. This is also known as minimal sedation or anxiolysis.

Moderate Sedation This is a drug-induced state during which your consciousness is

reduced, but you can still respond to verbal commands. This is also known as procedural sedation.

Deep Sedation and Analgesia. In this state, you are barely conscious, and commands often need to be repeated. Your ability to breathe independently is impaired, but cardiovascular function remains unaffected.

General Anesthesia Consciousness is lost in this case – and arousal is not possible, even by painful stimulation. You’re also unable to breathe independently, and help will be required to maintain a clear airway. You might require a breathing machine ordrug-induced reduction of your neuromuscular function. Cardiovascular function may be similarly impaired.

Complications of Sedation

Oversedation is a state of suspended animation and unresponsiveness, similar to general anesthesia. Prolonged, deep sedation is accompanied by significant complications of stasis (immobility or stillness), including pressure ulcers, thromboemboli, gastric ileus, nosocomial pneumonia and death.

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