Akathisia: prevalence and associated dysphoria in an in-patient population with chronic schizophrenia.
S M Halstead, T R Barnes, J C Speller


In a sample of 120 long-stay in-patients who fulfilled DSM-III-R criteria for schizophrenia, chronic akathisia and pseudoakathisia were relatively common, with prevalence figures of 24% and 18%, respectively. Compared with patients without evidence of chronic akathisia, those patients with the condition were significantly younger, were receiving significantly higher doses of antipsychotic medication, and were more likely to be receiving a depot antipsychotic. Patients who experienced the characteristic inner restlessness and compulsion to move of akathisia also reported marked symptoms of dysphoria, namely tension, panic, irritability and impatience. The findings support the suggestion that dysphoric mood is an important feature of akathisia. Male patients appeared to be at an increased risk of pseudoakathisia. No significant relation was found between chronic akathisia and tardive dyskinesia, although there was a trend for trunk and limb dyskinesia to be commonest in patients with chronic akathisia while orofacial dyskinesia was most frequently observed in those with pseudoakathisia. Akathisia may mask the movements of tardive dyskinesia in the lower limb. There was no evidence that akathisia was associated with positive or negative symptoms of schizophrenia nor with depression.