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Catatonic Schizophrenia: What Is It?

Catatonic Schizophrenia: What Is It?

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that scientists are still working to understand fully. One thing that helps doctors diagnose schizophrenia is grouping them into subtypes, which are identified by a series of symptoms. Catatonic schizophrenia is one of the more severe subtypes of the disorder. Thanks to modern medicine and the amazing developments we’ve made in learning about schizophrenia, it has become less common.

Catatonic Schizophrenia Definition

The main thing that makes catatonic schizophrenia particularly unique from other subtypes of schizophrenia, is how it effects a person’s movement. There are two extremes that can occur in this subtype. The first is catatonic stupor which means a person has lost the desire or will to move. They no longer make voluntary movements. The second is the exact opposite. A person’s activity increases immensely, causing them to make fast, sporadic movements. This is referred to as catatonic excitement.

People with this disorder often place their bodies in odd positions that appear uncomfortable to most people. They can appear rigid and stiff, refusing to move when asked or prompted. Some will remain in the same position for extended periods of time, even if they appear to be extremely uncomfortable. They can experience both catatonic stupor and catatonic excitement, going back and forth between the two extremes.

An observer of someone with these symptoms would say they seem to make no sense. It’s difficult to predict what someone with catatonic schizophrenia will do next, and they are often hesitant or unable to communicate thoroughly about their movements.

Catatonic Schizophrenia Symptoms

Before an individual can be diagnosed as having catatonic schizophrenia, they must first receive a general schizophrenia diagnosis. It often takes a significant amount of time for catatonic symptoms to start to appear. A person with schizophrenia may have occasional catatonic symptoms without being diagnosed as catatonic. Once the symptoms begin to manifest themselves more regularly, a diagnosis of catatonic schizophrenia is more likely to be accurate.


Echolalia: Echolalia is when someone repeat a word or a phrase that someone else said. It sounds like the copy cat game that you played when you were a child. There’s usually no rhyme or reason to why they’re copying what someone else is saying, and it’s usually just random words or phrases.

Odd Movements: This can involve facial expressions or body movements like sitting in an odd position. They might repeat the same movement multiple times in a row, or insist on following a strange order for a routine.

Excitement: Strange, sporadic movements that have no cause or logical reason.

Extreme Resistance: This occurs when a person doesn’t listen to or respond to any verbal commands or instructions from another individual. They might refuse to move from where they’re sitting or be unwilling to speak or converse with others, regardless of prompting.

Physical Immobility: Patients with this symptom are unable to speak or move their body. They appear to be frozen in one single position. This can go on for multiple hours.

There are various types of treatments available to help with catatonic schizophrenia. These treatments have been extremely successful in recent years, which has significantly lowered the number of individuals who suffer with this subtype. Medication and various forms of therapy have been the most effective source of treatment to offer relief.

Thanks to modern medicine and the amazing skills of scientists who dedicate their lives to studying this mental illness, the amount of people who have catatonic schizophrenia is much less than it was a few decades ago. Proper treatment of schizophrenia will make an enormous difference in lessening the chance of developing this subtype, and keeping the patient’s quality of life as high as possible.

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