A Comprehensive Guide on Catatonic Depression

A Comprehensive Guide on Catatonic Depression

Depression is a complex mental health condition that can come in many ways. The most common is Major Depressive Disorder, but women who give birth can also experience Postpartum Depression, some people can be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, and some people can have dysthymia.

So there’s no singular way in which depression can present itself. It can even be part of different medical conditions entirely, as episodes of depression are symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.

At PROMIS, we understand that your mental health is a serious concern for you. Our programs are designed to help you manage the litany of symptoms that you may experience.

An Overview of Depression

At its core, depression is characterized by great sadness. People who have depression will feel hopeless and empty inside. They may have a hard time doing anything because their depression causes them to feel fatigued or they simply don’t see the point in doing anything. In truly severe cases, depression can also cause suicidal ideation.

The effect that a mood disorder such as depression can have on someone’s life can be profound. A person who has it can experience professional and personal setbacks if they are unable to manage their symptoms.

What is Catatonic Depression?

Signs and Symptoms of Catatonic Depression

Types of Catatonic Depression

Causes of Catatonia

Treatment for Catatonic Depression


The first-line treatment for catatonia is typically a benzodiazepine like lorazepam or clonazepam. This is because they can rapidly reduce catatonic symptoms. Traditional antidepressants like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) can also be used for depression symptoms, but they may not be as effective when someone is in a catatonic state. 

Other medications can also be used if the catatonia in question is symptomatic of another medical condition.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

For patients who have severe catatonic symptoms, doctors may opt for Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). This is a type of therapy wherein an electrical current is administered to the brain while the patient is under general anaesthesia, resulting in a controlled seizure.

ECT is believed to modulate neurotransmitter activity and promote neuroplasticity, leading to improvements in mood and motor function. ECT is quite effective, with some research finding it to be between 80 to 100 per cent effective even after medication has failed.


Physical Therapy

Therapy and Medication when Catatonic Symptoms Subside

Some forms of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and supportive therapy can be beneficial for people who suffer from catatonia. Therapy can be beneficial for understanding and addressing underlying depression once catatonia symptoms improve. A patient may also be prescribed traditional antidepressants.  

Because of how catatonia can be caused by other conditions, it’s important to note that a patient who presents with symptoms should be taken to a medical doctor immediately to be properly diagnosed and treated.

Coping with Catatonia

Coping with catatonia in everyday life can be a mixture of sticking to the treatment plan as prescribed by a medical professional and coping with the underlying depression. Above all, if you’re suffering from this, you need patience. The lifestyle changes, therapy, and medication that you may have to use to treat depression may take time to take effect, but they’ve all proven to be effective at treating depression.

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