Catatonic Type of Schizophrenia: Symptoms & Overview

Instructor: Chevette Alston

Dr. Alston has taught intro psychology, child psychology, and developmental psychology at 2-year and 4-year schools.

This lesson describes catatonic schizophrenia, its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Although it takes time to make a proper diagnosis, those living with schizophrenia can still lead productive lives.

Catatonic Schizophrenia

Catatonic schizophrenia is a subtype of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder characterized by many of the following features: emotional blunting, intellectual deterioration, social isolation, disorganized speech and behavior, delusions, and hallucinations.

Catatonic schizophrenia includes a range of behaviors that fall between two extremes. Many with this condition cannot respond to social prompts, speak or move. This catatonic stupor is demonstrated by a dramatic reduction in activity or no movement at all. On the other hand, catatonic excitement can be seen in behaviors that are hyper and mimic sounds (echolalia) or movement (echopraxia). This spectrum of behaviors can occur together in a variety of ways.

Some are stereotypic behaviors that present as disturbances of movement and repeated, purposeless actions. You may find individuals with catatonic schizophrenia repeating unusual limb movements or holding themselves in bizarre body positions, a condition known as waxy flexibility. Waxy flexibility may involve staying immobile in seemingly uncomfortable positions for long periods. Individuals sometimes resist attempts by caregivers to help them into what would seem like more comfortable postures.

Catatonic Patient

Causes & Diagnosis

The causes of schizophrenia and its subtypes are not known. Current research indicates that most forms of schizophrenia are caused by brain dysfunction. However, why this dysfunction occurs is not known. It could be a combination of genetics and environmental triggers such as childhood stress, child abuse, and drug use, which contribute to faulty brain signaling.

In addition to psychological testing, medical testing can also be used to diagnosis schizophrenia. Doctors will try to find our when symptoms started, how severe they are, how symptoms impact the person's life. Thoughts of self-harm or harming other people may also be present. Because individuals with schizophrenia have difficulty with accurate recall, this type of social history is usually discussed with friends or family. In addition to social history and testing, it is best to rule out other disorders that may have the same symptoms, before automatically assuming that a person has schizophrenia.

Catatonic Female Patient

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