Treatments for psychomotor retardation are dependent on its causes. This condition — which involves slow labored movements, possibly delayed speech, and occasionally a reduction in ability to provide self-care — can be caused by various psychiatric disorders. Some of the common illnesses associated with these symptoms are bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression, and these all require different treatment. In most cases, appropriately diagnosing and addressing the underlying disorder results in improvement. Paradoxically, some treatments for these illnesses induce the disorder, and other treatments must then be considered.
Conditions like major depression, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia commonly have psychomotor retardation as a symptom. It’s an understatement to say these conditions are not the same and require different kinds of help. Often, the help most approved for a specific disease results in a return to normal psychomotor activity levels.
For example, the treatment for this condition when it's caused by major depression is usually in the form of antidepressants. Occasionally, these are combined with atypical antipsychotic drugs like quetiapine or aripiprazole. Another viable option is electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), which may resolve an episode of depression within a few treatments. No matter which treatment is chosen, it’s likely that very slow movements and reduced physicality will recede as a patient recovers.
There is considerable difference in treatment for psychomotor retardation that occurs with bipolar disorder. Though this often manifests during the depressive stage of the illness, using antidepressants is generally thought to be inappropriate. Instead, the emphasis is on stabilizing moods with anti-manic or anticonvulsant medications like lithium, lamotrigine, carbamazepine, and valproic acid. As in medication treatment for depression, sometimes the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs is necessary. Some people with this disorder also take benzodiazepines for anxiety.
Treatment for this condition in schizophrenia begins with using atypical and typical antipsychotics. These could include drugs mentioned above, and others like haloperidol and olanzapine. Sometimes benzodiazepines are a part of treatment, too.
Successful recovery from any of these disorders can also depend on psychotherapy. Patients treated with psychotherapy may experience a reduced frequency of psychomotor retardation episodes. It may not always be helpful alone, but a combination of drugs and psychotherapy can have benefit.
In all instances, the use of benzodiazepines and antipsychotics may help reduce symptoms of psychosis and anxiety, but they can also cause psychomotor problems to some degree. Psychiatrists might consider adding additional drugs like stimulants to address the problem in these cases. One concern with stimulant use is that it may induce manic or hypomanic states in patients with bipolar disorder, which might also cause psychomotor agitation. Drug combinations need to be considered carefully to minimize the chance of this reaction occurring.