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Catatonia and Delirium: Assessment of Comorbidity, Prevalence, and Therapeutic Response in Medically Ill Inpatients From a University Hospital

J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2023 Jan-Feb 01;43(1):55-59. doi: 10.1097/JCP.0000000000001621.


BACKGROUND: Catatonia is a cluster of motor features present in multiple psychiatric and clinical diseases. It may be confused with delirium because both entities are classified according to the type and degree of psychomotor activity. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, criteria for catatonia secondary to medical conditions exclude comorbid catatonia and delirium; besides, there have been increasing reports about a comorbid presentation. This study aimed to describe the prevalence of comorbid catatonia and delirium, the therapeutic response to lorazepam, and the clinical characteristics of patients with an earlier diagnosis of delirium.

METHODS: A total of 120 consecutive patients at a university hospital with an earlier diagnosis of delirium were evaluated using the Delirium Scale (confusion assessment method for the intensive care unit) and the Bush-Francis Catatonia Rating Scale for catatonia. In cases of a positive diagnosis of catatonia or catatonia/delirium, a therapeutic trial with intramuscular lorazepam was performed.

FINDINGS: Thirty-one patients (26%) were positive for both catatonia and delirium, and 8 patients (7%) had catatonia. Sixty-six patients (55%) were positive only for delirium, and 5 patients (4%) were negative for delirium and catatonia. Lorazepam tests were applied on 22 patients. One in 9 patients with catatonia/delirium responded positively to lorazepam. Patients with catatonia had a 60% positive response rate.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study on lorazepam use in catatonia-delirium patients; however, further studies are needed to determine the safety and efficacy of lorazepam in these patients. Catatonia and catatonia/delirium are underdiagnosed in inpatient wards and should be routinely assessed in patients with an altered mental status.

PMID:36584250 | DOI:10.1097/JCP.0000000000001621

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