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Psychomotor Retardation

Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.

What is Psychomotor retardation?

This is not a medical condition but is a symptom of some psychological disorders, mental disorders, illnesses, and other general causes. It is also known as psychomotor impairment.

Symptoms of Psychomotor Retardation

The symptoms that psychomotor retardation can cause in a person with certain psychological disorders and other causes with this symptom can include:

  • Movements that are labored and slow
  • Possibly having delayed speech
  • Occasionally having a reduction in the ability to provide self-care.
  • Difficulty in becoming motivated to get out of bed in the morning, take a shower, etc.
  • Physically motor impairment such as suddenly finding it difficult to live light weight objects, walk up a hill challenging, etc
  • Simple activities suddenly become difficult such as basic math used to pay for items at the store become challenging, finding directions on a map, etc
  • Challenges related to distance such as being able to function almost normal if they do not have to leave their room or house.


There are many different psychological disorders, mental disorders, illnesses, and other general causes that can have psychomotor retardation as a symptom.

These can include:

  • Psychological disorders – mood, eating, anxiety, and more
  • Mental disorders – bipolar disorder, severe depression, schizophrenia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Psychiatric medications if taken in improper doses


Because this is a symptom you need to treat the underlying cause. Treatment can be done in a variety of ways such as:

  • Therapy – individuals meet with a therapist on a regular basis and in time they may be able to progress past their psychological or mental disorder and be able to lead a mentally healthy life. Using psychotherapy will help you to have a successful recovery from any of the disorders that caused this symptom.
  • Medications – for mental disorders medication can help to stabilize their mood and free them from the symptoms of their mental disorder. Unfortunately some of these medications can have unpleasant side effects and have a risk of becoming dependent on the medication. If the cause is severe depression your physician or therapist may prescribe antidepressants that may be combined with atypical antipsychotic medications like aripiprazole.
  • If it is improper dosing or the medication itself that is causing the symptoms of psychomotor retardation your physician can either adjust the dosage or change to a different medication.
  • For severe depression they may use electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) which is better known as shock treatment. In this treatment electric currents are passed through your brain intentionally triggering a seizure that is brief. This type of treatment may help to resolve severe depression with just a few treatments.
  • With bi-polar, the symptoms of psychomotor retardation are usually seen during the depressive stage so the treatment will usually consist of stabilizing your mood by using anticonvulsant or anti-manic medications like lithium. For the depression part you may be given a prescription of atypical antipsychotic medications. For anxiety you may also be given a prescription for benzodiazepines.
  • With schizophrenia you may also be given typical antipsychotics and atypical medications like lithium, olanzapine, and haloperidol. The treatment might also call for a prescription of benzodiazepines.

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