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Podcast: How Can You Calm an Agitated Person?

In this episode of the Psych Central Show, hosts Gabe Howard and Vincent M. Wales speak with guest Dr. Scott Zeller, renowned psychiatric emergency services physician and expert on agitation. Dr. Zeller explains exactly what agitation means, in the medical setting, and how it differs from other states, such as violence. He dispels a few myths about agitation, and explains how the use of physical restraints and sedation are the wrong approach in almost all situations. Most importantly, he speaks on how common agitation is, even outside the medical setting, and how anyone can learn to de-escalate the emotions of someone in a state of agitation.

Show Highlights:


[1:11]               What do we even mean by “agitation”?

[6:45]               Aren’t all agitated people violent?

[9:11]               Dr. Zeller explains why we should rarely use restraints on agitated people.

[12:47]             Simple things to keep in mind when trying to calm an agitated person.


Listen as Our Guest Helps Us Learn About Agitation

“Something along the lines of 75% or higher of agitation in dementia states is due to some kind of infectious state.” ~ Dr. Scott Zeller

Proud Sponsor of The Psych Central Show

About Our Guest

Scott Zeller, MD, is Vice President for Acute Psychiatric Medicine for the physician partnership CEP America, in Emeryville, CA. Dr. Zeller is the former Chief of Psychiatric Emergency Services of the Alameda Health System, Oakland, CA, and in his 30 years in Emergency Psychiatry, he has personally cared for over 80,000 patients. Dr. Zeller is an Assistant Clinical Professor at both the University of California-Riverside and Touro University medical schools, and is Past-President of the American Association for Emergency Psychiatry. He is the author of multiple textbooks and numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and lectures internationally as a keynote speaker. He led development of both the USA and International Guidelines on Evaluation of Treatment of Agitation, and has published research on innovative designs and systems for emergency mental health care, which he has also helped to implement in multiple locations around the country. Dr. Zeller was named the National Council on Behavioral Health’s 2015 “USA Doctor of the Year”, and his latest book is The Diagnosis and Management of Agitation.

The Diagnosis and Management of Agitation

CEP America, Acute Psychiatry


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About The Psych Central Show Podcast Hosts


Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. In addition to hosting The Psych Central Show, Gabe is an associate editor for He also runs an online Facebook community, The Positive Depression/Bipolar Happy Place, and invites you to join.  To work with Gabe, please visit his website,



Vincent M. Wales
 is a former suicide prevention counselor who lives with persistent depressive disorder. In addition to co-hosting The Psych Central Show, Vincent is the author of several award-winning novels and the creator of costumed hero Dynamistress. Visit his websites at and



Source: psychcenteral