Psychiatric Annals

Feature Articles 

Catatonia in Children and Adolescents

Françoise Cornic, MD; Angèle Consoli, MD; David Cohen, MD, PhD

Abstract

In 1874, Kahlbaum described and named the catatonic syndrome, characterized by the coexistence of psychic and motor symptoms. Kahlbaum stressed the frequent association of catatonia with mood disorders, as well as its link with organic conditions such as alcoholism, epilepsy, and syphilis. Subsequently, there was a tendency to consider catatonia as a purely psychiatric condition associated primarily with schizophrenia. However, many reports published in the 1940s in Germany and in France challenged this point of view as too limited. In the 1970s, the European position was endorsed by Morrison, Abrams and Taylor, and Gelenberg. This broader view of catatonia as a syndrome was partially acknowledged in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV), where catatonia is still associated with schizophrenia, but also appears in a separate class as “catatonic disorder due to a general medical condition”, and as a specifier of affective disorders “ with catatonic features.” In the contemporary International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), catatonia is associated only with schizophrenia, and stupor with melancholia. A diagnosis of a medical condition called “organic catatonic disorder” is also possible.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Françoise Cornic, MD, is with CNRS “Cognition et Comportement” at GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, and the Department of Adult Psychiatry, Hôpital Sainte Anne, Paris. Angèle Consoli, MD, is with the CNRS “Cognition et Comportement” at GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, and the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, AP-HP, GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris. David Cohen, MD, PhD, is with the CNRS “Cognition et Comportement“ at GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, and the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, AP-HP, GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris.

Address correspondence to: David Cohen, MD, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpétrière, AP-HP, 47-83 Bd de l’Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France; or email: david.cohen@psl.aphp.fr.

The authors disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES

  1. Describe the epidemiology of catatonia in children and adolescents.
  2. Review the signs and symptoms of catatonia in young people.
  3. Review the differential diagnosis of catatonia in young people.

Abstract

In 1874, Kahlbaum described and named the catatonic syndrome, characterized by the coexistence of psychic and motor symptoms. Kahlbaum stressed the frequent association of catatonia with mood disorders, as well as its link with organic conditions such as alcoholism, epilepsy, and syphilis. Subsequently, there was a tendency to consider catatonia as a purely psychiatric condition associated primarily with schizophrenia. However, many reports published in the 1940s in Germany and in France challenged this point of view as too limited. In the 1970s, the European position was endorsed by Morrison, Abrams and Taylor, and Gelenberg. This broader view of catatonia as a syndrome was partially acknowledged in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV), where catatonia is still associated with schizophrenia, but also appears in a separate class as “catatonic disorder due to a general medical condition”, and as a specifier of affective disorders “ with catatonic features.” In the contemporary International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), catatonia is associated only with schizophrenia, and stupor with melancholia. A diagnosis of a medical condition called “organic catatonic disorder” is also possible.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Françoise Cornic, MD, is with CNRS “Cognition et Comportement” at GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, and the Department of Adult Psychiatry, Hôpital Sainte Anne, Paris. Angèle Consoli, MD, is with the CNRS “Cognition et Comportement” at GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, and the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, AP-HP, GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris. David Cohen, MD, PhD, is with the CNRS “Cognition et Comportement“ at GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, and the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, AP-HP, GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris.

Address correspondence to: David Cohen, MD, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpétrière, AP-HP, 47-83 Bd de l’Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France; or email: david.cohen@psl.aphp.fr.

The authors disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES

  1. Describe the epidemiology of catatonia in children and adolescents.
  2. Review the signs and symptoms of catatonia in young people.
  3. Review the differential diagnosis of catatonia in young people.

In 1874, Kahlbaum described and named the catatonic syndrome, characterized by the coexistence of psychic and motor symptoms. Kahlbaum stressed the frequent association of catatonia with mood disorders, as well as its link with organic conditions such as alcoholism, epilepsy, and syphilis. Subsequently, there was a tendency to consider catatonia as a purely psychiatric condition associated primarily with schizophrenia. However, many reports published in the 1940s in Germany and in France challenged this point of view as too limited. In the 1970s, the European position was endorsed by Morrison, Abrams and Taylor, and Gelenberg. This broader view of catatonia as a syndrome was partially acknowledged in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV), where catatonia is still associated with schizophrenia, but also appears in a separate class as “catatonic disorder due to a general medical condition”, and as a specifier of affective disorders “ with catatonic features.” In the contemporary International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), catatonia is associated only with schizophrenia, and stupor with melancholia. A diagnosis of a medical condition called “organic catatonic disorder” is also possible.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Françoise Cornic, MD, is with CNRS “Cognition et Comportement” at GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, and the Department of Adult Psychiatry, Hôpital Sainte Anne, Paris. Angèle Consoli, MD, is with the CNRS “Cognition et Comportement” at GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, and the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, AP-HP, GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris. David Cohen, MD, PhD, is with the CNRS “Cognition et Comportement“ at GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, and the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, AP-HP, GH Pitié-Salpêtrière, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris.

Address correspondence to: David Cohen, MD, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Groupe Hospitalier Pitié-Salpétrière, AP-HP, 47-83 Bd de l’Hôpital, 75013 Paris, France; or email: david.cohen@psl.aphp.fr.

The authors disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES

  1. Describe the epidemiology of catatonia in children and adolescents.
  2. Review the signs and symptoms of catatonia in young people.
  3. Review the differential diagnosis of catatonia in young people.

10.3928/00485713-20070101-05

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