Trouble with Restlessness
Do you feel so restless you can’t sit still? Do you constantly fidget or need to move around? Maybe you can’t enjoy quiet time or you are always “on the go.” Or perhaps you struggle to wait your turn or have had others call you “hyperactive.”
These are all possible symptoms of ADHD: Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. But did you know that trouble with restlessness could instead be a sign of other mental health concerns? We share just a few of those possible concerns below.
First, though, why is it important to figure out the underlying reason for your problems with sitting still?
Knowing the Underlying Reason
If you are asking questions about your problems with feeling restless, you likely want this problem to get better – you want to improve your ability to manage your behaviors and feel more calm. You might be considering medication, therapy, or other strategies to help you with your restlessness.
But, how you treat problems with restlessness depends on the cause. For example, most medications to treat ADHD treat ADHD only. They would not be effective for most other mental health concerns and could cause unwanted side effects. In addition, counseling strategies that help people with ADHD are very skills focused. That same focus on skills may be insufficient for counseling clients whose restlessness is caused by other reasons – you may be treating some of the symptoms but not the underlying cause.
Other Possible Explanations
Here are just a few of the other mental health diagnoses that include one or more symptoms related to restlessness:
- Major Depressive Disorder (depression)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Adjustment Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
If your trouble with restlessness is actually due to depression, anxiety, trauma, or stress–rather than ADHD–this would be good to know. But, how can you find this out?
How Can I Find Out?
Although many people start with Dr. Google to learn more about their symptoms, it is generally a good idea to follow up your personal research by scheduling an appointment to talk with a professional who specializes in mental health. Counselors, psychologists, and psychiatry providers are all familiar with mental health diagnoses. They can ask you questions that help to identify the explanations for your inability to sit still.
We especially recommend you consult with a professional if your symptoms interfere with your functioning or cause you distress. But, sometimes it is hard to choose which mental health service is best to get you the answers you need. Here is some information about the services we provide at Auburn Psychological Wellness Center, including how they may help you with your restlessness:
Individual counseling involves regularly meeting one-on-one with a therapist to talk about your concerns and learn new skills to improve your mental wellbeing. In your first counseling appointment, some questions will focus on the symptoms you are experiencing and the goals you have for improvement. Your counseling provider will continue to learn more about your concerns in future sessions while also working with you on your goals. Be sure to tell your therapist about your concerns with restlessness. Your counselor can usually give a preliminary diagnosis (explanation for your symptoms) after one to two appointments. Your therapy provider may also refer you for psychiatry services and/or psychological assessment to complement your counseling services.
Psychiatry services include the possibility of medication to treat your symptoms, as well as discussion of behavioral strategies to address your concerns. If you schedule a psychiatry appointment, the first meeting is an intake that covers your mental health symptoms, other medical concerns, history (if any) with medication, and goals for improvement. Your psychiatric provider will also discuss the risks and benefits of medications to treat your symptoms. Your provider will assign a preliminary diagnosis (explanation for your symptoms) at this appointment, and you may receive a prescription for medication. Follow-up appointments are scheduled to monitor improvement and side effects and to make any needed changes to your treatment plan. Your psychiatry provider may also refer you to counseling and/or psychological assessment to complement your psychiatric services.
Psychological assessment (also called psychological testing) is the service most directly focused on finding the diagnosis or diagnoses that explain your symptoms. This service includes an interview with a psychologist or psychological technician to learn more about your concerns and history. You will also complete multiple psychological tests. In a meeting at a later date, your provider would go over the assessment report, which includes diagnostic impressions and treatment recommendations.
Psychological assessment is not required for most people to get an accurate diagnosis. However, if you have many different symptoms or if you have not been helped as much as you would like from prior counseling or psychiatry services, testing may be especially helpful. Many people also schedule an assessment when they need academic accommodations for their symptoms.
What about Inattention and ADHD?
Restlessness is a definite symptom of ADHD for those with the hyperactive/impulsive and combined presentation. But some people struggle much more with inattention and problems with focus. If this applies to you or your loved one, check out our blog post on Can’t Concentrate: Is it ADHD or Something Else?
Schedule an Appointment
If you live in the state of Alabama or can visit Auburn, AL for an in-person appointment, you can schedule an appointment at Auburn Psychological Wellness Center. We offer counseling, psychiatry services, and psychological assessment. We have providers who can see children (8+), teens, and adults. Call us at 334-219-0425 or review our information on scheduling an appointment.