What exactly is catatonia in children and adolescents

Psychiatr Pol. 2020 Aug 31;54(4):759-775. doi: 10.12740/PP/113013. Epub 2020 Aug 31.
[Article in English, Polish]


The current study is a review of the literature on catatonia syndrome with focus on children and adolescent's specificity. Previous catatonia conceptualizations were significantly modified in the newest classification systems. Catatonia may be considered either a separate syndrome or a specifier of the course of other psychiatric disorders. Although diagnostic criteria for children and adolescent do not differ from those for adults, the clinical presentation and course may not be the same. In this age group relatively common are somatic conditions taking the form of catatonia. There is agrowing body of literature focused on catatonia in the course of pervasive developmental disorder. On the other hand, pervasive refusal syndrome and lethal catatonia are discussed in the literature, but they are not present in the classification systems. In the current paper basic treatment guidelines were also described. First-line treatment is the use of benzodiazepines and electroconvulsive therapy. The diagnosis and treatmentof catatonia is of great practical importance. While improper diagnosis and non-optimal treatment may have fatal consequences, in the case of proper diagnosis an effective treatment may be administered.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; autoimmune encephalitis; classification of mental disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Benzodiazepines / therapeutic use*
  • Catatonia / diagnosis*
  • Catatonia / drug therapy
  • Catatonia / therapy*
  • Child
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male


  • Benzodiazepines