Food and Behaviour Research

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Low plasma iron status and akathisia

Barton A, Bowie J, Ebmeier K. (1990) J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 53(8): 671-4. 

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Thirty patients were examined to test the hypothesis that a depletion of iron levels is associated with symptoms of akathisia. Fifteen akathisic patients were pair-matched with 15 non-akathisic patients.

Plasma ferritin levels were significantly decreased in the akathisic patients, and there was a significant inverse correlation between plasma iron levels and akathisia rating. In addition, akathisia ratings were found to be correlated with a scale measuring symptoms of tardive dyskinesia.


Akathisia is a common and very troubling side-effect of many anti-psychotic medications, involving an intense sense of restlessness and constant need to move, as well as emotional agitation.

The causes are not known (and are likely to vary between individuals), but the findings of this small study supported the hypothesis that depletion of iron might be a factor - as was found in a previous small study. See: