Alternative treatment strategies for catatonia: A systematic review

Scott R Beach, Federico Gomez-Bernal, Jeff C Huffman, Gregory L Fricchione
General Hospital Psychiatry 2017, 48: 1-19

BACKGROUND: Catatonia is a commonly encountered syndrome, affecting 10-20% of various psychiatric populations and carrying significant medical co-morbidities. However, there are few established alternative treatment strategies when benzodiazepines are ineffective and electroconvulsive therapy is unavailable.

OBJECTIVE: The authors systematically review evidence for alternative treatment strategies for catatonia using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines.

METHOD: The authors conducted a search of PubMed database from 1983 to August 2016 to identify articles. Eligible reports presented cases involving treatment of catatonia using modalities other than benzodiazepines or electroconvulsive therapy.

RESULTS: The authors identified 72 articles, comprising 98 individual cases. N-methyl-d-aspartate-receptor antagonists, anti-epileptic drugs, and atypical antipsychotic agents appeared to have the largest number of reports supporting their effectiveness and safety in treating catatonia patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on the case report literature, the authors propose an updated algorithm for catatonia treatment in cases where benzodiazepines fail and electroconvulsive therapy is not available.

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