What are catatonia symptoms?
The catatonia symptoms are common in a mental health problems. It includes schizophrenia, acute psychosis, depression and some other illnesses.
In particular, person suffering from catatonic schizophrenia tend to have very little response to their environment. They have a vacant stare, not able to move body much, maintaining a certain position for long time.
They may be engaged in repetitive motions like rocking or head banging.
Catatonia symptoms can cause person to freeze in place until environmental stimuli force them into action.
These person may also exhibit a degree of resistance when responding to requests, commands, or advice .
Technically, catatonia symptoms is characterized by at least two of the following symptoms, each of which must be observed and noted over a span of at least one month’s time.
These catatonia symptoms include stupor, waxy flexibility, mutism, immobility, simplified speech, negativism and resistive behavior
Catatonia symptoms also include mannerisms and posturing, purposeless voluntary movement, echolalia (meaningless repetition of any other person’s spoken words) or echopraxia (meaningless repetition of other’s movements).
Catatonia symptoms are not uncommon in psychiatric and medical facilities. Therefore it is important to know how to approach this condition appropriately before you see it.
If it is your family member, get help from outside sources.
If you find yourself caring for someone with catatonia, there is probably a lot going on in your life that makes it difficult for you to cope.
You may feel ashamed or embarrassed about your situation or that people might judge you as weak or incapable of taking care of yourself.
None of these feelings are unreasonable, but they can be isolating and make it even harder for you to get help.
Getting outside support from family members, friends, professionals like teachers or religious leaders, social workers, mental health professionals, psychiatrists
All of these sources can make life more manageable while also giving you time away from your responsibilities.
De-escalate the situation
When someone is suffering from catatonia symptoms, they are typically in an altered state of mind.
As such, they may not respond normally or appropriately to social cues, even when we think we are approaching them in a non-threatening way.
This can make normal interactions more difficult than usual, for example, if you are trying to get a person’s attention at work, it may be hard for them to recognize that you are there or what you are saying.
When possible, avoid abrupt movements or loud noises (e.g., Excuse me!) which can cause stress, instead, speak gently and wait patiently for your moment before approaching.
Stop avoiding the situation
If you suspect that someone close to you has catatonia symptoms, there is one thing you should know, nothing is going to change until you force yourself into action.
Until then, nothing can be done about it. In most cases, friends and family members end up taking responsibility for their loved one without any help from medical professionals.
And, as anyone who’s ever been caretaker knows, taking on too much at once can burn out even an experienced caregiver very quickly.
Instead of driving yourself crazy trying to fix things by avoiding them altogether, work toward getting professional help by contacting your loved one’s primary care physician or another mental health professional.
Just being there is enough at first
Sit with your loved one while they are in their catatonic state, giving them physical contact even if they don’t seem to notice.
It can help remind them that someone is there for them.
If you are not able to physically sit down, at least stay in their presence nearby.
They can feel more comforted by knowing you are there, even if they don’t actually remember your presence or anything else about what’s going on.
You might also try talking to them, asking questions like What would you like? or Do you need something?
Though it may be difficult to hear any response, it can still be encouraging to know that they have some awareness of their surroundings.
You could also read aloud from a book or newspaper (or use an app) so long as it doesn’t seem like too much stimulation for them.
The goal here is just to keep things as normal as possible and make sure your loved one feels safe.
Learn what they need
When someone is having catatonia symptoms, they are in their own world. It is not always easy to tell what is going on inside their head.
Instead of approaching from an objective viewpoint, think about what you would need if you were stuck in that situation yourself safety, comfort, space, freedom of expression?
Try to understand what might be happening and how it feels for them so you can adapt your approach accordingly.
If at all possible, speak with a medical professional or emergency responders before interacting with someone who is experiencing catatonia symptoms.
One of their main goals will be safety ensuring that both parties are safe at all times during the encounter and knowing your plan ahead of time will make everyone more comfortable.
Talk to them when they respond
Catatonia is characterized by an individual’s lack of response when spoken to.
People with catatonia symptoms will fail to respond or seem not to comprehend conversation even if they are able to carry on an intelligent conversation, whether verbally or through writing.
In some cases, people who suffer from catatonia symptoms are unaware of their surroundings or that others are speaking to them.
So it may be necessary for others around them friends and family, possibly to say something before they can be approached.
Once an individual realizes they are being addressed, they should make eye contact while approaching them as carefully as possible.
Ask them what they want
Since catatonic individuals are unresponsive, their behavior can be very confusing to anyone who isnot trained in mental health issues.
When you approach someone with catatonia, it is important to begin by assessing their needs as best you can, as well as what you think they want or need from you.
You may find that asking them outright works better than trying anything else. For example, if they appear severely agitated, ask what would help them calm down and if there is anything they want or need from you.
If you are concerned about someone, it is best to talk to them.
Ask them how they feel about what’s going on in their life, whether there are ways that you can help, and if they have any solutions for their behavior.
Communicating is key when dealing with catatonia symptoms both for helping yourself and for helping your loved one.
Take care of yourself in times of crisis so that you don’t fall into catatonic behavior as well.
If family members do become catatonic, get professional help immediately. The sooner an individual can be treated by a trained mental health professional, the better his or her chances will be at recovery.