JOURNAL ARTICLE

Challenges of managing delirium and catatonia in a medically ill patient

Rachel Meyen, Elia E Acevedo-Diaz, Sparsha S Reddy
Schizophrenia Research 2018, 197: 557-561
29510926

BACKGROUND: Untangling catatonia and delirium can be challenging. Furthermore, treatment of one syndrome can potentially worsen another.

CASE PRESENTATION: We present the case of a 71-year-old patient with a history of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar subtype, who developed catatonia and delirium with prominent psychotic symptoms, during a single hospitalization. Treatment of this patient's catatonia with benzodiazepines exacerbated delirium, while treatment of psychotic symptoms precipitated by delirium with antipsychotics led to catatonia. Catatonia and psychotic symptoms were eventually successfully managed with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

DISCUSSION: This case report highlights some of the treatment challenges faced when delirium and catatonia overlap in a medically ill patient. The use of benzodiazepines, valproic acid, antipsychotics, ECT and alternate medications to treat catatonia are also discussed.

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