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Catatonic Schizophrenia Symptoms

Catatonic Schizophrenia Symptoms

The symptoms of schizophrenia include delusions and hallucinations that make the affected individual withdraw from the society. The following PsycholoGenie write-up provides information on the symptoms of catatonic schizophrenia.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder affecting about 7 in 1,000 adults in the age group of 15 to 35 years. It is divided into various types, that are distinguished according to the symptoms exhibited. We shall focus on the symptoms of catatonic schizophrenia to understand the behavior of patients suffering with this mental disorder.

Catatonic schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness, where the patient interprets reality abnormally. It is characterized by episodes of extreme behavior. On one hand, the affected person may talk in a weird manner and become hyperactive. On the other hand, the person may be unable to speak, respond, or even move. This form of schizophrenia has become rare due to the availability of treatment options. It can occur with other forms of mental illnesses. Its symptoms can be managed to a great extent with effective treatment.

The causes are not clearly understood, but most of the available evidence points towards brain dysfunction as the cause. The reasons for the brain dysfunction are still disputable and under investigation. Many suggest that genetic and environmental factors may be playing a role in brain dysfunction. When the neurotransmitters in the brain develop chemical imbalance, it might lead to catatonic schizophrenia.

The symptoms include immobility, to such extent that the person may stay in an extremely rigid position for a really long time. This position is maintained by the affected person for hours, days, weeks and even months on end. This is called akinesia, that is absence of any physical movement. The symptoms also include agitated movements that are totally unrelated to the person's environment. This condition is called catatonia. In milder cases, the person shows slow motor activity. These people may hold on to a position for a long time in a way that looks as if someone else has placed them in it.

Their position may feel uncomfortable to the observer. For example, the person may stand on one leg as if mimicking a stork for hours on end. This kind of behavior is called catatonic positioning. If the arm or leg of that person is moved by the observer, the patient will continue to maintain the new position for long hours. This condition is known as waxy flexibility.

Other extreme symptoms include extreme activity. The person tends to look unconnected to his surroundings or environment. He may run up and down the stairs continuously or carry out bizarre, useless actions repeatedly. On the other hand, the person may sometimes show extremely slow motor activity, that is catatonic stupor. They show negativism and resist all attempts to move them and show no interest in understanding the requests made by the observer. The person may even show echolalia, that is repeatedly say a word spoken by someone else. They also show echopraxia, that is, imitate movements or gestures carried out by someone else.

Other symptoms and signs include:
  • Development of a mindset or belief that is not based on reality, that is, delusional
  • Hallucinations
  • Incoherent speech
  • Personal hygiene may take a backseat
  • Affected person shows no emotions or a lack of them
  • Exhibiting emotions that are inappropriate for the situation
  • Sudden angry outbursts
  • Trouble at work or school
  • Uncoordinated, clumsy movements
  • Social isolation
The symptoms depend on the underlying cause. The patient may be hospitalized as he may prove to be a danger to himself and others. The patient would be given pharmacological and psychotherapeutic medications. Manic episodes are treated with stabilizers like lithium and valproic acid. Antidepressant medications are prescribed for the treatment of depression. Supportive psychotherapy and family education helps in building a strong support group for the patient.

The initial symptoms could be triggered by drug abuse, loss of a loved one, or incidents that adversely affect mental health. After successful treatment, many patients might suffer from a relapse. Most of the symptoms that are due to drug or medication abuse can be reversed by stopping the use of the drug. There are many treatment programs that can prove beneficial to control the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.