Catatonic schizophrenia was previously counted among the sub-types of schizophrenia. At present, it does not officially exist as a condition, according to current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-5). The terms “catatonic schizophrenia” was used to describe a “condition” that showed signs of both schizophrenia and catatonia.
Catatonic behavior in schizophrenia might manifest as a patient’s lack of reactivity to his or her surroundings. This may show through not speaking, moving, responding for several hours. On the other hand, it is also possible that the patient moves erratically.
Catatonic Behavior in Schizophrenia
Catatonia is sometimes associated with schizophrenia. A person with catatonic schizophrenia may not move or respond for a period of time.
The other side of this catatonia or the extreme end of catatonia is known as catatonic excitement. Catatonic excitement manifest through the mimicking of movements known as echopraxia and the mimicking of sounds also known as echolalia. Both these mimicking acts are considered peculiar and excessive.
Catatonic Schizophrenia: What Are the Symptoms?
At present, catatonic schizophrenia has become a rare condition with fewer patients being afflicted with the said health problem. This is mainly due to the development of better and improved medication for catatonia.
Other mental health conditions may also present catatonia or catatonic states. These include depressive disorders, psychotic bipolar, and neuro-developmental conditions. As stated earlier, patients with catatonia may shift from periods of under-activity to extremely high levels of activity.
With the available treatments in the market at present, patients can get better treatment and may have increased chances of improved quality of life and a happier outlook. Some of the symptoms of catatonic schizophrenia are listed below but it must be noted that the aforementioned mental condition can only be confirmed if at least three of the listed symptoms are present, viz:
- Echopraxia – The act of mimicking the movements of another person.
- Echolalia – The act of mimicking the speech of another person.
- Grimacing – Patient’s facial expression showing pain.
- Agitation – Feeling agitated for no apparent reason.
- Stereotypy – Movements that are done repetitively with no clear purpose.
- Mannerisms – Displaying exaggerated and odd mannerisms.
- Posturing – Positioning the body in such a way that is against gravity.
- Negativism – Minimal to almost absent response to an external stimulus or instruction.
- Mutism – Verbal responses that are limited.
- Waxy Flexibility – Once limbs are placed or positioned in one particular way, patients will maintain the said position until it once again moved.
- Catalepsy – Patients who will come up with weird or strange postures.
- Stupor – No interaction or activity to the external environment or outside stimuli.
If left untreated, people will experience their catatonic episode for longer periods namely days and even weeks. In addition to the items enumerated above, there are other signs and symptoms of schizophrenia in general. Below are some of these symptoms:
- Difficulties in cognitive abilities – Schizophrenia can affect the cognitive ability of individuals. This includes our ability to properly communicate, organize our thoughts, planning and strategizing ahead memory and recall, and focus or concentration.
- Poor Insight or the lack of awareness of one’s illness – Patients who experience hallucinations are unable to decipher if their illness or their hallucinations are true or imaginary. As such, they are unable to recognize the fact that they are ill or sick.
- Withdrawal from society – This withdrawal from society and social groups is primarily because these patients are paranoid that people are out to hurt or harm them.
- Emotions are poorly expressed – Patients may not be able to properly express their emotions such as happiness and sorrow or respond inappropriately.
- Avolition or lack of motivation – Patients can lose interest in their daily routines and may give up on life in general.
- Disorderly thoughts – Patients with schizophrenia will tend to jump from one topic to another without any reason or logic. In addition, patients with thought disorder will usually talk in such a way that is difficult to understand or muddled.
- Hallucinations – Hallucinations for schizophrenic patients will usually describe their hallucination as “hearing voices” but they can also experience visual hallucinations.
- Delusional thoughts – People with delusions may be paranoid and believe that people are out to harm or hurt him or her. Patients with delusional thoughts may also think that they have special gifts or supernatural powers.
What Are Its Risk Factors?
As stated earlier, catatonic schizophrenia will have risk factors that are the same or similar to other forms of schizophrenia. These risk factors are:
- Drug use – People who used drugs that may have affected their mental development during adolescence may have a higher risk of developing catatonic schizophrenia.
- Age of the mother and father during birth – Parents who are older may have children with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia.
- Trauma and Child abuse – Patients who may have experienced abuse or trauma as a kid may have a higher chance of developing catatonic schizophrenia.
- Stressors experienced early in life – Stressful situations have been observed right before the occurrence of schizophrenia. Patients who experienced extremely stressful events as a kid may also have a higher risk of developing catatonic schizophrenia.