Catatonia in psychiatric illnesses

Dirk M. Dhossche, Lee Elizabeth Wachtel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

11 Scopus citations


Catatonia challenges the validity of modern classification systems by cutting across its proposed boundaries. Contrary to earlier claims that catatonia is restricted to schizophrenia, and soon to be extinct, there is current evidence showing that catatonia is diagnosable in 7 to 17% of acute psychiatric inpatients. A similar proportion of autistic adolescents and adults also meet criteria for catatonia. Sedative treatment and electroconvulsive therapy, the treatments that have historically proven to be effective in catatonia, remain the therapeutic mainstay for catatonia. Evaluation and treatment algorithms that should be helpful when assessing and treating these challenging patients are presented, as well as a GABA-deficit theory of catatonia for guidance of future studies into this syndrome's biochemical correlates. Further studies are needed to optimize the recognition and treatment of catatonia in a wide range of medical and psychiatric patients of different ages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Medical Basis of Psychiatry
Subtitle of host publicationThird Edition
PublisherHumana Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781588299178
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Catatonia
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder
  • Children
  • Delirium
  • Electroconvulsive treatment (ECT)
  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
  • Mood disorder
  • Movement disorders
  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • Psychomotor abnormalities
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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