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Antipsychotic-induced akathisia in delirium: A systematic review

  • Fernando Espi Forcen (a1), Konstantina Matsoukas (a1) and Yesne Alici (a1)



Akathisia is a neuropsychiatric syndrome characterized by subjective and objective restlessness. It is a common side effect in patients taking antipsychotics and other psychotropics. Patients with delirium are frequently treated with antipsychotic medications that are well known to induce akathisia as a side effect. However, the prevalence, phenomenology, and management of akathisia in patients with delirium remain largely unknown. The purpose of this review was to examine the medical literature in order to establish the current state of knowledge regarding the prevalence of antipsychotic-induced akathisia in patients with delirium.


A systematic review of the literature was conducted using the EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and CINAHL databases. Ten studies addressing the incidence of akathisia in patients taking antipsychotic medication for delirium were identified and included in our review.


The included studies reported a variable prevalence of antipsychotic-induced akathisia. A higher prevalence was found in patients taking haloperidol. Among atypical antipsychotics, paliperidone and ziprasidone were associated with a higher risk of akathisia. The risk for akathisia appeared to be a dose-related phenomenon.

Significance of results:

Studies using specific scales for evaluation of akathisia in delirium are lacking. Some populations, such as patients with cancer or terminally ill patients in palliative care settings taking antipsychotics for the treatment of delirium, could be at higher risk for development of akathisia as a side effect.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Fernando Espi Forcen, 425 East 76th Street, Apartment 4B, New York, New York 10021. E-mail:


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Antipsychotic-induced akathisia in delirium: A systematic review

  • Fernando Espi Forcen (a1), Konstantina Matsoukas (a1) and Yesne Alici (a1)


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