alexa Catatonia: The Ultimate yet Treatable Motor Reaction to
ISSN: 2165-7890

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Research Article

Catatonia: The Ultimate yet Treatable Motor Reaction to Fear in Autism

Dirk M Dhossche*

Department of Psychiatry, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi, USA

*Corresponding Author:
Dirk M. Dhossche
Department of Psychiatry, University of Mississippi Medical Center
2500 North State Street, Jackson, Mississippi, 39216, USA
Tel: +1 601 984 5805
Fax: +1 601 984 6965
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date November 28, 2011; Accepted date December 19, 2011; Published date December 21, 2011

Citation: Dhossche DM (2011) Catatonia: The Ultimate yet Treatable Motor Reaction to Fear in Autism. Autism 1:103. doi:10.4172/2165-7890.1000103

Copyright: © 2011 Dhossche DM. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricteduse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background: Catatonia is a unique syndrome characterized by specific motor signs, at times life-threatening when aggravated by autonomic dysfunction and fever, yet treatable if recognized early. Catatonia occurs in patients with various disorders including autism and related developmental disorders. Sometimes catatonia develops after severe psychological trauma, supporting the view that it is an extreme motor reaction to fear. Methods: Review of literature on the role of fear in the development of catatonia in autism, and its treatment. Results: There are no empirical studies in the literature addressing the role of fear in the development of catatonia in autism. Case-reports support that stressful events often precede the development of catatonia in autistic people and that catatonia in autism is a treatable syndrome, often requiring psychosocial interventions to reduce anxiety, and the use of benzodiazepines, electroconvulsive therapy, and maintenance electroconvulsive therapy for safe reversal. Autistic people may be particularly vulnerable to catatonia due to social, cognitive, and sensory deficits. Conclusion: Further studies are warranted in autistic people, measuring states of anxiety in response to various stressors, and assessing their relationship to catatonia, and applying various treatments including benzodiazepines, electroconvulsive therapy, and psychosocial interventions, in those with catatonia.


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