residual schizophrenia and disorganised schizophrenia.

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Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness whereby the individual interprets reality in an abnormal way resulting in episodes of psychosis (hallucinations, delusions and incoherency) and/or bizarre or extreme thinking processes and behaviours.

The different types of schizophrenia are diagnosed largely on the type of symptoms that are displayed. As such, an individual may suffer from more than one type of schizophrenia.

Symptoms of Catatonic Schizophrenia

In catatonic schizophrenia there are several different symptoms affecting both bodily movement and speech. For example:

•    The individual may sit motionless and unable to move voluntarily (catatonic stupor) for extended periods of time.

•    Voluntarily adopting bizarre postures and holding that position. In some cases if there is an attempt to change the bodily position of the individual they will sometimes hold that position for hours (waxy flexibility).

•    On the other hand they may show extreme resistance and considerable strength in resisting any attempt to change their posture (rigidity).

•    Moving in a frantic and frenzied fashion, extreme agitation and hyperactivity with no obvious purpose, repeatedly turning around in circles for example (catatonic excitement)

•    Being unable to speak (mutism)

•    Displaying resistance to following instructions or any attempts to be moved (negativism) or following instructions automatically (automatic compliance)

•    Mimicking words (echolalia) and/or gestures (echopraxia) over and over again

•    Some may exhibit unusual facial contortions, grimaces, body positions or movements

Diagnosing Catatonic Features

Although Catatonic features sometimes appear in people with Schizophrenia, they can also present in other conditions too. According to the DSM-1V diagnostic criteria, if two of the following are dominant then Catatonic features may be diagnosed:

•    A severe reduction in movement (stupor or waxy flexibility)
•    A severe increase in purposeless movement (catatonic excitement)
•    A severe resistance to following instructions or any attempts to be moved (negativism) or being unable to speak (mutism)
•    Mimicking or repeating words and/or gestures (echolalia and echopraxia)
•    Peculiar bodily movements, grimacing, facial contortions etc.

Treating Catatonic Schizophrenia

Treatment involves finding ways to alleviate the Catatonic state. The first option is likely to be some form of medication, particularly Benzodiazepines, which are ant-anxiety medicines or sedatives. They can act fairly quickly to relieve the catatonic symptoms. Although anti-psychotic medication is often used to treat people with Schizophrenia, this type of medication can sometimes worsen Catatonic symptoms making treatment of Catatonic Schizophrenia more challenging.

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