What is it?

Catatonia is a psychomotor disorder that involves the connection between mental function and movement. Catatonia affects a person’s ability to move in a normal way.
People with catatonia can experience a variety of symptoms. The most common symptom is stupor, which means the person can’t move, speak, or respond to stimuli. However, some people with catatonia may exhibit excessive movement and agitated behavior. Catatonia can last anywhere from a few hours to weeks, months, or years. It can frequently reoccur for weeks to years after the initial episode.

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Signs & symptoms

Catatonia has many symptoms, the most common of which may include:
- Stupor, where a person can’t move, can’t speak, and appears to be staring off into space
- Posturing or waxy flexibility where a person stays in the same position for an extended period
- malnourishment and dehydration from lack of eating or drinking
- Echolalia, where a person responds to the conversation by only repeating what they’ve heard


No definitive test for catatonia exists. To diagnose catatonia, a physical exam and testing must first rule out other conditions. The Bush-Francis Catatonia Rating Scale (BFCRS) is a test often used to diagnose catatonia. Blood tests can help to rule out electrolyte imbalances. These can cause changes in mental function. CT or MRI scans allow doctors to view the brain. This helps to rule out a brain tumor or swelling.


Medications or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be used to treat catatonia.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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