Catatonia is associated with higher rates of negative affect amongst patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder

Schizophr Res. 2022 Sep 13:S0920-9964(22)00334-6. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2022.09.001. Online ahead of print.


Catatonia is a complex syndrome encompassing motor, behavioral, and affective symptoms seen in a significant proportion of patients with schizophrenia. There is growing evidence to suggest affective dysregulation is a salient feature of both catatonia and schizophrenia. To test the hypothesis of a linkage between affective dysregulation and catatonia in schizophrenia, we searched electronic medical records from 36,839 patients with schizophrenia, using anxiety and depression diagnoses as proxies for affective dysregulation. Catatonia was found in 4.7 % of the cohort. Analyses indicated that catatonia was significantly associated with both anxiety and depression co-morbidities: schizophrenia patients with catatonia were 1.71 times more likely to have anxiety and 1.80 times more likely to have depression than those without catatonia. Benzodiazepine usage was also 7.73 times more common in schizophrenia patients with a catatonia diagnosis than without that diagnosis. Taken together, the findings could be related to GABAergic dysfunction underlying schizophrenia, catatonia, and affective dysregulation.

Keywords: Catatonia; Negative affect; Schizoaffective disorder; Schizophrenia.