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Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2000 Jun;12(2):89-96.

Catatonia in a psychiatric intensive care facility: incidence and response to benzodiazepines.

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  • 1Graylands Hospital, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.


This study was performed to establish the incidence of catatonia in a psychiatric intensive care unit, to test the Bush-Francis Catatonia Screening Instrument (BFCSI) and to assess the response of catatonic signs to benzodiazepines. During a 12-month period all patients admitted to a psychiatric intensive care unit were screened for catatonic signs using the BFCSI. Patients with catatonia were further assessed with the Bush-Francis Catatonia Rating Scale (BFCRS), the Modified Rogers Scale (MRS), and scales for associated psychotic and parkinsonian symptoms. They were treated with oral lorazepam or parenteral clonazepam and their responses evaluated daily. Neuroleptics were stopped for at least 3 days. Twenty four patients met the DSM IV criteria for catatonia, giving an incidence of 15% with a significantly higher proportion of non-Europeans. The most common associated diagnosis was schizophrenia (54%). Twenty two patients completed the benzodiazepine trial. All showed significant responses after 3 days of treatment. Sixteen (16/22, 73%) had full remission within 6 days, most within 2 to 4 days. Partial responders (n = 6) all had schizophrenia and were more likely to have longer pre-trial catatonic episodes. We find the BFCSI a simple and reliable tool to screen for catatonia, and our data attest to the efficacy of benzodiazepines in the treatment of catatonia.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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