Catatonia – Pathophysiology, Diagnosis and Management

Posted on:April 1, 2020
Last Updated: November 10, 2023
Time to read: 9 minutes

The concept of catatonia was first described by Kahlbaum (1874). Catatonia is a psychomotor syndrome that occurs in 9 to 17% of patients with an acute psychiatric disorder. [Rosebush et al 1990; Francis et al 2010] Catatonic stupor is the most recognisable presentation however immobility, mutism, staring, and rigidity are common clinical signs of catatonia.

Catatonic patients are at risk of multiple life-threatening complications and therefore rapid treatment is required particularly before any treatment is initiated for the primary medical concern.

For instance, neuroleptic malignant syndrome is a serious complication that can develop if catatonia is left untreated and has a mortality rate of approximately 10%. [Strawn et al 2007]