Catatonia in childhood and adolescence

Ken Takaoka, Tomoji Takata
Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2003, 57 (2): 129-37
Child and adolescent catatonia has been poorly investigated. A literature review was undertaken to clarify phenomenology, diagnosis, etiology, and treatment as well as ethical problems of catatonia in childhood and adolescence. Although there are no accepted standardized criteria for catatonia in childhood and adolescence, catatonic features described by child psychiatrists are similar to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th edn; DSM-IV) criteria for catatonia. With respect to etiology, the motor and behavioral symptoms that are part of catatonia bear some similarities with those seen in autism. Several case reports suggest an association between catatonia and general medical conditions. Certain drugs abused by youngsters as well as prescribed medicine can induce catatonia. Regarding catatonic cases originally diagnosed as schizophrenia, it is unclear whether all of these cases should be identified as schizophrenia or whether some of them are pervasive developmental disorders that develop psychic features in adolescence. Environmental changes preceding the onset of catatonia in patients with mood disorder play a possibly important role. Examples that suggest stress-induced catatonia, although rare, also exist. A few patients exhibit features of malignant catatonia, some without taking neuroleptics and others having taken them. Benzodiazepines and electroconvulsive therapy are considered to be effective treatments for catatonic youngsters.

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