Catatonic Schizophrenia: Symptoms and Treatment

It is hard to fathom the workings of the human mind, even with the advanced psychological methods. Childhood experiences and life experiences, trauma, and many other things can lead to mental disorders. Catatonic schizophrenia is a type of schizophrenia. For more on these matters of mind, continue reading this PsycholoGenie article.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Many young adolescent boys and girls experience social withdrawal and social anxiety on account of delusions and paranoia. They may exhibit some movement and behavioral abnormalities. Parents are usually shocked, when the doctor confirms that the child has schizophrenia. Although the word 'schizophrenia' means 'split mind', a person diagnosed with schizophrenia does not necessarily have a 'split personality' or 'multiple personality'. In general, schizophrenia refers to disordered thinking and behavior. Schizophrenia is basically a mental illness, where there is an unusual or incorrect perception of reality.
Catatonic schizophrenia is a subtype of schizophrenia as mentioned in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 4 (DSM-IV-TR). This condition is a combination of catatonia and schizophrenia. It is quite rare, especially in developed countries. Catatonic schizophrenia occurs when catatonia, a psychic and motor disturbance syndrome is associated with psychiatric conditions, like schizophrenia. It has not yet been classified as a different disease. According to the DSM-IV-TR, if a person has delusions and hallucinations coupled with disorganized speech, and exhibits incoherent social behavior regularly, the person is diagnosed as having catatonic schizophrenia. The condition is characterized by a variety of strange symptoms.
Patients suffering from this disorder either experience an extreme loss of motor skills (hypokinesis or being unable to move) or they exhibit hyper motor activity. Resistance to movement is observed in such patients.
Symptoms also involve repetition of nonsensical phrases and imitating another person's speech or movements. They also include a posture called waxy flexibility, which means that the person when placed by others in a specific position, maintains that posture for a long time. Because of decreased response to stimuli, there is a tendency to remain in an immobile posture.
A few other symptoms are neglect of personal hygiene, lack of emotions, angry outbursts, trouble functioning at school or work, social isolation and clumsy, uncoordinated movements.
A particular condition is experienced by these patients, which is called the 'catatonic excitement'. It pertains to persistent useless agitation. The individuals in this state become hyperactive, although the activity does not yield anything constructive.
Apart from depression, catatonic patients may exhibit extreme negativism. Older patients often refuse to drink or eat.
The patients may find it difficult to complete normal tasks. For example, one may take hours to sit up in bed.
First step in the treatment of this condition is the patient's acceptance that he or she is afflicted by the mental disorder. Once this is accomplished, then, it is possible that the medication will work. Because if the individual is rigid, and is not motivated and willing to get better, the medications would be in vain. There are various treatment options available for this disorder. They are mentioned below.
✦ Medication
Medication is the pillar of this treatment. Benzodiazepines are the most common medicines used for this problem. Also called antianxiety medications, these are basically sedatives. The medication may be injected in a vein, they act fast, and reduce the catatonic symptoms. Barbiturates is another option, but not as common as Benzodiazepines. They are also sedatives and could form a habit for the person consuming them for long period of time. This medicine too helps in reducing the symptoms. If an individual also suffers from depression, then, antidepressants is an alternative. Mood stabilizing medication can also be used for controlling hostility and aggression.
✦ Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
Electroconvulsive therapy is a procedure in which electric currents are passed through a patient's brain, inducing a brief seizure. It apparently causes changes in brain chemistry, and can reduce the symptoms.
✦ Hospitalization
Hospitalization is mandatory if the individual is suffering from severe bouts of catatonic schizophrenia. This way, the hygiene and nutrition of the patient will be taken care of. Sometimes, the patient needs to be monitored by a caregiver to make sure he/she doesn't harm himself/herself or others.
✦ Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy involves individual therapy and social therapy. In the individual therapy, the therapist helps the patient cope with the disorder on his own. It improves the communication and social skills of the individual. Family therapy is all about making the family members of the patient understand the disorder. This helps the family members cope with the patient's problem.
✦ Vocational Skills Training
The recovery of a patient can be quickened by administering vocational therapy. The therapist can actually help the patient learn communication skills, hygiene, and probably cooking.
The severity and responsiveness to the treatment is relative, and changes from individual to individual. However, with strong will power of the concerned individual, and love and support from the family and loved ones, this psychological disorder can be kept in control.
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.