Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Pacing during periods of high agitation

I have a 37 year old son with schizophrenia, who is managing meds independently, and making a tight daily schedule that includes care of pets, writing, reading, self care and chores. He is having increasing periods of agitation and pacing, with increased paranoia, and is unable to read or write or do his schedule. He feels we parents are causing him to not be able to work because we want him out of the house or in the hospital. Nothing we say or do seems to help him, and while these periods are primarily 2-3 hours in the evening, now can be anywhere from 6 to 8 hours, and anytime of day. I am trying to understand what is going on how to help. He is in incredible pain( thoughts etc) and often just yells out that he can’t stand it. Does not want to contact doctor, is petrified of a hospitalization, and feels if he moves to another state, he would return to “normal”. Anyone experiencing this in your family…how can we help him, or what does this mean? Thank you.

Yup! When my DD heads South in her moods she paces so much it makes me tired to watch. For her also her hands become cold as ice. Prior to psychotic break, she was ridiculously schedule oriented. Now she can’t focus to write anything and reading is shot. Wish I had more insight into the how I can help? I just don’t know. This morning, for us is exceptionally LOUD and she’s wearing a path down there hall. Hang in there…

I tend to pace when agitated. It gets to the point I feel I’m doing laps of my house or workplace. Some suggestions:

Encourage him to go for walks when he gets that way. It may help to walk and talk with someone to talk through his anxious energies and thoughts. This is encouraged for ‘normals’ in my workplace when frustrated with work problems. They do laps of the nearby track together. Some people with dementia also get the ‘walkies’.

Generally I think it’s a good thing in moderation, sort of the body’s natural way of repatterning itself as is done with Autistic children. In my first big psychotic break, I experienced elaborate involuntary movements along with pacing I couldn’t control, eventually it worked itself out and I became calm and still again. I understand this can also be common after seizures, although I’ve only witnessed this in dogs after a grande mal seizure.

This may also be a drug side effect called akathisia. It’s a known side effect of activating AP medications like Abilify (aripiprazole)


Thank you…I know when my son starts pacing,he can’t stop, and feels a tremendous amount of energy buildup. I remind him that there is an ebb and flow of these symptoms…but he is afraid it will last forever.

Thank you…good info. I’d like to think of it as a repatterning or resetting, which puts a positive spin on it. He did a lot of pacing prior to his diagnosis, so I didn’t think of the medication connection.

1 Like

It sounds like you son MIGHT benefit from reviewing his medications with his doctor. Nobody should live with the pain of anxiety and paranoia. Perhaps a tweak in his dosage will help resolve some of this. That he can’t maintain the routine he wants and can’t do the reading and writing that he was able to do before is concerning.

My son also paces - he does in fact call it doing his laps. Kitchen, dining room, living room, turn at the front door, retrace steps. He has started to take some walks again, which I encourage both for the change of scenery to break up his thoughts, and for the exercise.

I agree with Vallpen: his medication needs to be reviewed. Also, did you mean he is disciplined enough to take his meds daily? Look into monthly iinjectipms. Tell him it’s to help with his anxiety.

My Sz husband only paced when he was on certain meds. It drove me crazy!!! I asked him to stop and he said he couldn’t. It only stopped when he switched meds. I’m sorry that it’s been such a long time ago, I don’t remember what he was taking.

I agree about the med review. I will be sending a note to his doctor, clarifying the frequency and intensity of these daily “attacks” as my son calls them. While my son tells me that he informs the doctor, i’m afraid he down peddles it. His decision making re to take or not take his multiple prns, for varying symptoms, vacillates forever with the pacing, He is religious with the regular meds, but feels he shouldn’t have to take the prns bc they will become a permanent part of his regime, or change his ability to have his regular “working” day. And while I encourage him to take the prn, to have a more noRmal life, he feels if he moves to another state, he won’t have these symptoms.

Thank you, Jan. He takes his meds as if inscribed in stone…but can’t make a decision on the prns… he he can’t make many daily decisions without painful delays…