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Catatonic schizophrenia
Classification and external resources

Catatonia means a person is awake, but does not move, talk, or react to anything but pain.[1] The person can stay stiff and still for hours. A person with catatonia may look to be in a stupor (being mentally numb and in a daze). The cause is in the nervous system; the brain and nerves. This problem was first written about in 1874 in Die Katatonie oder das Spannungsirresein.[2]


Catatonia can sometimes happen with mental disorders. It can be a symptom of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. Catatonia may also happen when a person abuses drugs or overdoses by taking too much of a drug.

Catatonia can also be caused by many different medical disorders. Some causes are infections, such as encephalitis; autoimmune diseases; damage to the brain from strokes; and metabolic problems.

A person can also get catatonia from benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, which happens if the person quickly stops taking benzodiazepine medications.[3][4][5].


Doctors can treat catatonia. They usually start with medicines such as benzodiazepines. If those medicines do not work; doctors may use shock therapy. Antipsychotic medicines can also be used, but with safety in mind. Sometimes they can make catatonia worse or have bad side effects.[6] A group of anesthetic drugs called NMDA antagonists may be helpful when benzodiazepines don't work.[7]


  1. Fink, Max; Taylor, Michael Alan (2006-11-23) (in en). Catatonia: A Clinician's Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-03236-0 . 
  2. Dr Hans-Peter Haack. "Karl Ludwig Kahlbaum". Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  3. Rosebush PI; Mazurek MF. (August 1996). "Catatonia after benzodiazepine withdrawal". Journal of clinical psychopharmacology. 16 (4): 315–9. doi:10.1097/00004714-199608000-00007 . PMID 8835707 . 
  4. Deuschle M, Lederbogen F (January 2001). "Benzodiazepine withdrawal-induced catatonia". Pharmacopsychiatry 34 (1): 41–2. doi:10.1055/s-2001-15188 . PMID 11229621 . 
  5. Kanemoto K, Miyamoto T, Abe R (September 1999). "Ictal catatonia as a manifestation of de novo absence status epilepticus following benzodiazepine withdrawal". Seizure 8 (6): 364–6. doi:10.1053/seiz.1999.0309 . PMID 10512781 . 
  6. Fink M, Taylor MA: CATATONIA: A Clinician's Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment, Cambridge U Press, 2003"
  7. Daniels, J. (2009). "Catatonia: clinical aspects and neurobiological correlates.". J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 21 (4): 371–80. doi:10.1176/appi.neuropsych.21.4.371 . PMID 19996245 . 

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