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Catatonic schizophrenia is a feature of schizophrenia, which is a mental health disorder characterized by symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, difficulty thinking, and lack of motivation. Catatonic schizophrenia isn’t necessarily another type of schizophrenia but rather a reference to a particular set of symptoms. Today, we’re looking into what catatonic schizophrenia is and how to identify it.
Catatonic Schizophrenia Definition
Catatonia or catatonic schizophrenia refers to a set of symptoms that might develop, though these symptoms only happen in some patients diagnosed with schizophrenia. Common characteristics of catatonic schizophrenia involve flipping between hyperactivity to under activity or lack of responsiveness.
Some people with catatonic schizophrenia may move very little and not respond to any instructions, while others may display behavior that’s considered “excessive” and “peculiar,” such as echolalia (mimicking sounds) or echopraxia (mimicking movements). These sets of symptoms are called catatonic excitement.
Catatonic schizophrenia mainly affects the way a person moves in extreme ways. Some people may be completely still and unresponsive, while others may be hyperactive for no reason.
Catatonic Schizophrenia Symptoms
Although catatonic schizophrenia is a rare set of symptoms that were believed to only occur in people with schizophrenia, it’s now been found in people with other types of mental disorders, such as neurodevelopmental, psychotic bipolar, or depressive disorders.
People with catatonic schizophrenia may exhibit unusual styles and levels of physical movements that may range from complete stillness to unexplainable excitability and hyperactivity. This state may persist for minutes, hours, or even days.
Common schizophrenia catatonic-type symptoms include:
- Stupor (a state close to unconsciousness)
- Catalepsy (loss of voluntary motion in which the limbs remain in whatever position they were placed)
- Waxy flexibility (limbs stay in a position someone else puts them in)
- Mutism (lack of verbal responsiveness)
- Negativism (lack of response to stimuli or instruction)
- Posturing (holding a posture that fights gravity)
- Odd and exaggerated movements (mannerism)
- Movement disorders (unexplainable repetitive movements)
- Agitation (unease or inner tension leading to aggression or violence)
- Grimacing (contorted facial movements or expressions)
- Echolalia (meaningless repetition of someone’s words)
- Echopraxia (meaningless repetition of someone’s movements)
This catatonic state may be interrupted by periods of polar opposite behaviors. For instance, someone with catatonia may experience brief episodes of unexplained excitability or defiance.
In order for someone to be diagnosed with catatonia, they must exhibit at least three of the symptoms listed above. Although this condition has been found in other mental disorders, it’s most common among those with schizophrenia.
Moreover, apart from catatonia symptoms, patients with catatonic schizophrenia may also experience symptoms of schizophrenia, like:
- Thought disorder (muddled or irregular speech)
- Poor expression of emotions
- Unaware of illness (poor insight)
- Cognitive difficulties like inability to concentrate, remember things, plan ahead, or organize
Patients with symptoms of catatonic schizophrenia are usually unable to get help for themselves. Often, it’s a spouse or close family member who seeks mental health treatment for them.
Treatment for Schizophrenia
Although not everyone with schizophrenia experiences catatonia, the risk is high. Fortunately, professional schizophrenia treatment can help those with schizophrenia-related catatonia recover from and learn how to manage their symptoms.
If you or someone you care about has been affected by mental illness, our Banyan Mental Health treatment center offers various options for outpatient and inpatient mental health treatment for disorders ranging from depression and anxiety to OCD and PTSD. Recovery is possible for those with mental illness.
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