I see nothing, I do not hear anything: what is catatonic depression
We live in a world where every second person, even in theory (and well, if in theory) knows what depression is. Depressive disorder is a state of health that makes a person always be in a bad mood, feel anger towards themselves and others, become listless and apathetic. But, perhaps, you do not know that sometimes depression can be accompanied by catatonia, when a person does not react at all to the surrounding world.
Causes, symptoms and existing treatment options – in this material we have gathered everything you need to know about catatonic depression right now.
What is catatonic depression?
Catatonic depression is a subtype of depression, characterized by the fact that a person does not speak and almost does not move, so it seems that he is completely numb for some time. The patient with such depression, like MedicalNewsToday, does not react to what is happening around, and can be extremely quiet and still.
It should be noted that before catatonia was a subtype of schizophrenia . However, modern evidence-based medicine recognizes that catatonia can accompany many different mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, depression, mood disorders and personality disorders.
Symptoms of catatonic depression
The most common symptoms associated with catatonia are mutism (lack of speech with the preservation of the speech apparatus) and numbness (the state of being stupefied). However, in order for a doctor to diagnose catatonia, a person must have at least three of the following twelve symptoms:
- Anxiety or restlessness;
- Catalepsy is a trance-like state;
- Echolalia is a meaningless repetition of the words of another person;
- Echopraxia is a senseless repetition of the movements of another person;
- A facial expression similar to that of a person when he is in pain;
- Mutism is the inability or refusal to speak;
- Negativism is behavior contrary to emotions;
- Rigid or unnatural posture, often for extended periods;
- Ritualistic movements, such as rocking or crossing legs;
- Stupor – reduced response to stimuli;
- Unusual manners;
- Classical symptoms of depression, such lethargy and apathy, unmotivated sadness and a sense of hopelessness.
In addition, like any depression, catatonic depression can affect a person’s appetite, sleep qualityand ability to concentrate.
The causes of catatonic depression
Specialists can not say for sure what exactly causes catatonic depression, although on this account there are several popular theories. Some researchers, for example, believe that catatonia is usually caused by the depletion of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with mood .
Depression can also be caused by a combination of several factors, including:
- changes in the structure of the brain that can make it less sensitive to certain hormones;
- family history of depression or other mental health problems;
- significant changes in life, such as death of a loved one or divorce;
- additional medical conditions, such as sleep problems, chronic diseases or ADHD;
- history of drug and / or alcohol dependence.
Diagnosis and treatment of catatonic depression
Often, a person with catatonic depression does not respond to questions asked by a doctor, so a specialist may need help from a close patient to learn more about the symptoms. The doctor will also try to exclude other diseases that have similar symptoms. For example, a condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome, which can occur with an adverse reaction to antipsychotic drugs. In addition, the diagnosis is often accompanied by visual studies to exclude dangerous changes in the brain, which can also provoke catatonia.
With regard to treatment, it is best in this sense to prove calming and relaxing muscles drugs, as well as, if they are not effective, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which is usually performed under general anesthesia. During ECT, doctors pass an electric current through the patient’s brain, causing a seizure attack that has a curative effect. According to the World Journal of Psychiatry, ECT is effective in treating 80-100% of all forms of catatonia.
As soon as the symptoms of catatonia improve, the doctor can prescribe antidepressants and psychotherapy for the treatment of major depression. Despite the fact that catatonic depression is a very serious condition, it nevertheless can be treated. So this is not a verdict in any case, although it may take a long time to return the patient to a normal life.