Nervous energy symptoms can be a sign of nothing more than too much caffeine or complex sugar intake. They may be indicative of a “nervous” personality (a fidgety person). More often, however, they are indicators of emotional and physical disorders.
People with tics, such as incessant finger-drumming, eye-blinking, foot tapping, or other repetitive movements, may be in the early stages of depression or other mental distress. The uncontrolled and obsessive moments may be related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) wherein a person is habitually and repetitiously compelled to do a particular body movement (such as touching items a certain number of times). These kinds of nervous energy are psychological in origin.
Certainly, some forms of nervous energy are indicative of organic issues as well as mental. People with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism in which the afflicted is unable to develop socially, also manifests in certain nervous behaviors. Asperger’s patients may pace for hours, or rock back and forth on their heels, or sway from side to die, compulsively and without reason. Other seemingly involuntary movements, ascribed to “nervous” energy, may underlie early-onset Parkinson’s.
More commonly, nervous energy symptoms are evidence of adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (adult ADHD), chronic depression, and most commonly anxiety disorders (such as OCD, panic disorder, or mania). Symptoms of hyperactivity include excessive talking, restlessness, nervous energy, and an inability to sit still and relax (even for short periods). Furthermore, many people with undiagnosed emotional disorders may be “impulsive”: exhibiting moods swings, frequently interrupting others, and blurting out inappropriately.
Obviously, behaviors that are merely annoying may cause the person problems in social settings (such as incessant talking). However, unless the activity is either life threatening or diminishes the person’s quality of life (by keeping him or her from getting and keeping a job, for example), nervous energy is harmless.
He or she may be aware of a problem but are unable to control the behavior. The best course of action is to confront the person displaying the behavior, gently and tactfully. He or she may not understand why the involuntary or compulsive fidgeting or movements are happening. After a private discussion with the person, the next step may be to seek professional help. Whether this takes the form of mental health counseling or a visit to a medical doctor is not relevant; follow-up is necessary if the afflicted feels out of control or helpless. Nervous energy symptoms should not be ignored as just uncontrollable or willful behavior.