What clinical analysis of antipsychotic-induced catatonia and neuroleptic malignant syndrome tells us about the links between these two syndromes: A systematic review

Schizophr Res. 2023 Dec:262:184-200. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2023.08.003. Epub 2023 Aug 19.


Objectives: Antipsychotic-induced catatonia (AIC) and neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) are life-threatening adverse reactions to antipsychotic medication. We conducted a systematic review of literature following the PRISMA statement guidelines to obtain a description of these syndromes (population, context of occurrence, antipsychotic agents implicated) and draw conclusions about their links.

Methods: We searched Medline and Web of science databases from January 1951 to May 2019 (further restricted from 2000 to 2019) using search terms including "catatonia", "neuroleptic malignant syndrome" and "antipsychotic agents" for case reports, case series and analytic studies. After screening 4082 records, 410 full-text articles (describing 555 events) were assessed for eligibility. We included events of AIC and/or NMS according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) criteria and extracted data about patients' characteristics, context of occurrence, antipsychotic agent(s) involved and treatment outcomes.

Results: We included 165 events (16 AIC, 129 NMS and 20 AIC + NMS) from 144 case reports and case series. The most reported diagnosis was schizophrenia. Comorbid pre-existing conditions such as central nervous system diseases and acute medical events were common. Most of the events (63.3 %) occurred during antipsychotic monotherapy. Second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs, 63.8 %) were overall more implicated than first-generation antipsychotics (FGAs, 36.2 %).

Discussion: Our findings highlight that any antipsychotic medication, even SGA monotherapy prescribed at recommended dose, is at risk for these side effects. FGAs and polypharmacy seem to represent risk factors for malignant catatonia in AIC. The clinical overlap observed between AIC and NMS events in our review suggests a clinical continuum between catatonia and NMS.

Keywords: Antipsychotic side-effects; Antipsychotic-induced catatonia; Catatonia; Neuroleptic malignant syndrome; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents* / adverse effects
  • Catatonia* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome* / etiology
  • Schizophrenia* / drug therapy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antipsychotic Agents