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Catatonia is a set of symptoms that include agitation, bewilderment, and restlessness, as well as a lack of movement and conversation.

It was once assumed to be a form of schizophrenia. Other mental problems, as well as some conditions that disrupt your body’s metabolism, can cause you to become catatonic, according to specialists. Catatonia affects about one out of every ten people with a severe mental condition.

Catatonia is treatable, but if not, it can escalate to life-threatening complications.

Catatonic schizophrenia is a rare serious mental disease marked by dramatic motor behavior, which might include a considerably decreased voluntary movement or agitation and hyperactivity. In some situations, the patient may appear almost completely immobile, typically adopting statuesque postures. For hours or days, patients may stay motionless and in a rigid position.

Catatonic schizophrenia has no known cause. It’s possible that an imbalance of specific neurochemicals is involved, which could lead to aberrant brain activity. The beginning of the disease can be triggered by a number of events, including drugs and alcohol.

Catatonic behavior was first seen in schizophrenia patients, and it was afterward noticed in patients with a variety of other mental illnesses, including specific mood disorders like depression; in those circumstances, the name catatonia is used to characterize the behavior.

The following are some important factors to remember concerning catatonic schizophrenia. In the body of the article, there’s more detail and supporting evidence.

  • Catatonia is a rare feature of schizophrenia.
  • Switching between inactivity and hyperactivity can be one of the symptoms.
  • Catatonic schizophrenia has the same risk factors as generalized schizophrenia.
  • For the manifestations of catatonic schizophrenia, there are now a variety of treatments available.

Improved treatments have made catatonic schizophrenia far less common than it once was. Catatonic episodes are now more common in mental illnesses other than schizophrenia, including neurological (conditions affecting children’s neurological systems during maturation), depressive disorders, and psychotic bipolar. Catatonia can cause a person’s motor activity to fluctuate between low and high.

Catatonic schizophrenia patients can better manage their symptoms with contemporary medicines, increasing their chances of living a healthier and happier life.

At least 3 of the symptoms listed are prominent in the clinical presentation of catatonia:

  • Stupor is characterized by a lack of psychomotor activity and interaction with the surroundings.
  • Catalepsy is characterized by bizarre postures.
  • Waxy flexibility means that if an examiner positions the patient’s arm in a certain position, it will stay there until it is moved again.
  • Mutism is a condition in which a person’s ability to express themselves verbally is severely reduced.
  • Negativism is characterized by a lack of or complete lack of reaction to commands or external stimuli.
  • Posturing is the act of actively maintaining a posture in the face of gravity. 
  • Mannerism is defined as the practice of doing unusual or exaggerated actions.
  • Stereotypy is defined as a pattern of behavior that occurs repeatedly for no apparent reason.
  • Agitated and angry – for no apparent cause
  • Wincing
  • Echolalia is when a person imitates the speech of another person.
  • Echopraxia refers to the act of imitating the actions of another person.

A catatonic phase can last days or even weeks if it is not treated properly.

As of now, we don’t know what causes catatonia. Researchers discovered that persons with these symptoms have atypical activity in regions of the brain that control movements, such as the hypothalamus and forebrain.

The condition usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. It’s a condition that lasts a lifetime. However, the appropriate treatment can assist to alleviate your problems.

You are more prone to develop schizophrenia if you have a family background of it. In certain patients with schizophrenia, medications and alcohol can also trigger catatonic symptoms. The same is true with antipsychotic meds and other medications you might be taking to address a mental disease.

Nobody knows why people develop catatonic schizophrenia. Most forms of schizophrenia, according to research, are caused by brain malfunction; however, we don’t know why this brain abnormality arises. A combination of heredity and environmental stimuli, such as stress, are most likely to blame.

An unbalance of dopamine, a neurochemical is thought to be implicated in the start of schizophrenia, according to experts. They think that this unbalance is most probably caused by genes that predispose people to the disease. Other neurotransmitters, like serotonin, may also be implicated, according to some experts.

Schizophrenia is a chronic illness that can last a lifetime, however, the catatonic symptoms may not. Schizophrenia patients require ongoing therapy, even if their symptoms appear to have subsided and they think they are doing better. All kinds of schizophrenia are treated in essentially the same way.

Methods differ based on a variety of circumstances, including the degree and types of symptoms, the patient’s health, and their age.

Medication

Benzodiazepines are a type of tranquilizer that is often used to treat catatonic schizophrenia. The medication has a short half-life and can be given intravenously (injected into a vein). If used for an extended period of time, there is a danger of dependency. This drug may be required for several days or weeks by the patient.

Barbiturates, sometimes known as depressants or sedatives, are a class of medicines. The central nervous system is suppressed. They have a wide variety of effects, from mild drowsiness to total anesthesia. Barbiturates work quickly to alleviate catatonia symptoms. There is a risk of dependency if used over an extended period of time. This medication is used less frequently than barbiturates to treat catatonic schizophrenia.

Antidepressants and mood stabilizers — persons with catatonic schizophrenia frequently suffer from depression and other mental health issues.

Other options for treatment

ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) is a treatment that involves sending an electric current through the brain to cause controlled seizures (convulsions). Catatonic individuals who have not responded to drugs or other treatments are given ECT. Short-term memory loss is one of the possible side effects.

Hospitalization may be required in the event of a severe incident. In a hospital setting, patients are safer because they are more likely to receive a good diet, sleep, and hygiene, as well as the appropriate treatment.

Psychotherapy – Medication is the mainstay of treatment for people with catatonic schizophrenia; nonetheless, psychotherapy can be beneficial; however, if symptoms are severe, psychotherapy may not be appropriate.

Interpersonal and professional skills training may assist the patient to live independently, which is an important aspect of the patient’s recovery. The therapist can assist the patient in developing appropriate hygiene habits, preparing nutritious meals, and improving communication. There may also be assistance in locating employment, obtaining housing, and joining self-help groups.

In medicine, compliance (adherence) refers to taking medications at the correct times and in the correct doses. Patients with schizophrenia, unfortunately, have a high rate of noncompliance. Patients can go for lengthy periods of time without taking their medication, causing tremendous disruption in their life and the lives of those around them.

If left untreated, a person suffering from this illness may have rigidity or stupor, or be unable to speak, answer, or even move—and this can linger for hours or even days. Catatonia can sometimes produce unusual motions and the inability to shift into more comfortable or natural positions.

In addition to the lack of mobility, catatonic behavior might include irregular and excessive activity. For example, a person may pace in a predictable rhythm and exclaim loudly for no apparent cause (for example, not in response to an environmental event or stimulus). Echolalia, or the parrot-like echoing or repetition of speech, is another common catatonic phenomenon.

Coping with Catatonic Behavior

It’s terrible to see someone you care about suffer from catatonic behavior as a result of schizophrenia. The greatest thing you can do is keep informed about catatonia’s signs, diagnosis, assessment, and treatment options so you can get help as soon as possible if you see any indicators of catatonia, such as stiffness or stupor, or unpredictable and excessive movements.

You may need to intervene depending on the degree and type of symptoms to mention the catatonic actions to your dear one’s doctor. Working with your loved one’s health professional and sticking to the treatment plan will go a long way toward ensuring that schizophrenia is successfully treated and controlled.

Don’t forget about self-care, which is critical for maintaining the mental energy needed to support someone who is suffering from a mental illness. Make an effort to get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, and schedule time for rest and recreation in your life.

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