Hey, what can you tell me about catatonia in depression? Does it happen to trauma sufferers? It would need hospitalisation, correct? So if the patient is catatonic I assume that hospitalisation would be against the patient's will? And does the person not move at all? My character remains in bed the whole time and barely communicates. She conveys that she doesn't want to be hospitalised through the bare minimum of communication. Is this a correct representation of her?
So, uh, I have a few questions. If your character remains in bed the whole time, does she get up to use the bathroom? Or does she just relieve herself in the bed? Does someone feed her and give her water? If they didn’t, would she just let herself starve?
Because, yeah, if she’s refusing to leave her bed, to the point of soiling herself and refusing to eat or drink, it won’t matter that she communicates “through the bare minimum” that she doesn’t want to be hospitalized. That’s not safe behavior, and she at the very least needs to be evaluated medically and psychologically.
ANYWAYS. Catatonia is more than just ‘not responding’ / not doing anything.
Catatonia is any three (or more) of the following symptoms:
- stupor - not moving at all, not actively reacting to surroundings
- catalepsy - holding a pose
- waxy flexibility - stiff, holding a pose, but if someone tries to adjust their position (by like moving their arm), the character stays in the position they’re moved into.
- mutism - they don’t talk
- negativism - they either don’t respond to or oppose instructions
- posturing - also holding a pose? But it’s somehow different from catalepsy.
- mannerism - odd caricatures of normal movements
- stereotypy - repetative movements
- echolalia - repeating what other people say
- echopraxia - mimicking another’s movements
The thing about catatonia is that, well… it’s not too much of an issue nowadays. We have these amazing things called ‘benzodiazepines’ that are FUCKING AMAZING at treating catatonia.
“Within 3 hours of receiving [specific benzodiazepine medication], the vast majority of catatonic patients, who have been immobile, mute, withdrawn, and refusing to eat or drink, enjoy complete release from their “frozen” state.” [Source]
COMPLETE REMISSION WITHIN 3 HOURS. HOLY SHIT.
Like, normally psychiatric medications take from days, to weeks, even months to fully kick in.
Now, your character could be depressed as fuck and barely leaving her bed because of how severe her depression is. But that’s not the same as catatonia.
I’ll be covering severe depression in a future post, but yeah. Unless you’re doing a period piece pre-1970′s, the severe, barely-responsive catatonia you’re describing isn’t really a thing anymore.