Bipolar disorder

All the Symptoms of Catatonia

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: March 22, 2022
All the Symptoms of Catatonia

When we say catatonia, we are referring mainly to difficulties in motor activity. So people with symptoms of catatonia demonstrate certain characteristics relating to their motor activity that we will clarify for you. Symptoms of catatonia may occur in various disorders, such as manic episodes, major depressive episodes, mixed episodes, schizophrenia, etc. The consequences of such symptoms can be, among others, malnutrition, exhaustion and self-harm. So now we will explain how to recognize the symptoms of catatonia.

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  1. Motor immobility
  2. Excessive motor activity
  3. Extreme negativism
  4. Voluntary abnormal movements
  5. Echolalia or echopraxia
  6. Diagnosing catatonia

Motor immobility

This can be manifested by stupor or catalepsy. The body maintains a rigid posture, so people with this symptom will carry themselves with absolute rigidity. That is, the person will stay perfectly still. For example, if you move one of their arms, it will stay in the position you put it in. The person seems disconnected from the outside world without being able to respond to various external stimuli. This is known as a "negative" symptom of catatonia, as it describes loss of the person's functions. A person with catatonia may also have very slow movements, which is known as stupor.

A catatonic person trying to move may also experience pain (though psychological) when moving even just a limb. This can be common in catatonic patients with severe depression.

Excessive motor activity

A person with symptoms of catatonia, can also exhibit "positive" symptoms, such as excessive motor activity, which is characterized by moving for no reason. That is, the movement has no apparent purpose. At the same time, this activity is not influenced by external stimuli, i.e. is not a response to something that is happening around the person.

Extreme negativism

This has to do with an incomprehensible resistance to any order that is given. If you ask the person to move or change position, they will not do it. This extreme negativism is also reflected through the maintenance of a rigid posture that prevents us from moving them. For example, in some cases it is impossible to try to move them given their stiffness.

All the Symptoms of Catatonia - Extreme negativism

Voluntary abnormal movements

The person may adopt voluntary positions characterized by their particularity, whether by their strangeness or at inappropriate moments given the situation. Also, stereotyped movements are frequent, i.e., repetitive movements that do not have a specific function, like balancing the body or head. Another feature of this type of movement is exaggerated gestures.

You may see how a person with catatonia has extreme flexibility in their movements, they may go into strange positions that could seem impossible and extremely harmful to the eye of the beholder.

Echolalia or echopraxia

As for echolalia, this is characterized by continuous repetitions and nonsense words said to others. Usually they repeat this incessantly without ever giving another response. Echopraxia is also common. This is characterized by the repetition of movements made by someone else. The patient with catatonia may also repeat words or intonations made by others too.

Diagnosing catatonia

Once you have noticed symptoms of catatonia, it's important to seek professional help so that the patient with catatonia can be properly diagnosed, as there are several reasons for these attacks:

  • Schizophrenia: Among the many symptoms of schizophrenia, patients with this mental illness will have to be medicated in order to stop catatonic attacks, though it is a condition that a patient must live with throughout his/her life.
  • Severe depression: This diagnosis is better when it comes to treating it, as most patients suffering from severe depression can overcome it through psychiatric treatment. However, symptoms of severe depression related to catatonia can also be part of a more severe mental illness such as bipolar disorder.
  • Medical conditions: Catatonia may be a sign of an underlying medical condition such as Parkinson's disease, infectious diseases or neurological problems. The person with catatonia that carries an underlying medical condition will only present catatonia symptoms every now and then and will have lucid periods.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to All the Symptoms of Catatonia, we recommend you visit our Mental health category.


  • If you think someone you know has symptoms of catatonia, consult a specialist.
  • Catatonia may appear after consumption of illicit drug taking, which is why you should give this information to your GP.
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All the Symptoms of Catatonia