What is Catatonia?

Catatonia is a distinct neuropsychiatric syndrome that is becoming more recognized clinically and in ongoing research. Its main clinical features are abnormalities on motor behaviors, including being immobile, not speaking, or having unusual movements out of context to the environment. Abnormality [e.g, fever, diaphoresis, tachycardia, hypertension] in autonomic functions is characteristic of the more severe forms, referred to as malignant catatonias.

In its classic full form, where mutism, posturing, and stupor are present, catatonia is readily recognized. In many cases, however, its less dramatic features are more subtle, intermittently present, or misidentified.

Catatonia can be seen along with psychiatric, metabolic, or neurologic conditions. It may occur in many forms, including neuroleptic malignant syndrome.

Treatment with benzodiazepines or electroconvulsive therapy leads to a dramatic and rapid response, although systematic, randomized trials are lacking.

This website for the Catatonia Program is designed to provide information to patients, families, and medical professionals on a range of topics about catatonia.

In addition, we are providing a moderated discussion “blog” for families and medical professionals to discuss ideas and even to (anonymously) report cases and experiences.