What Causes Catatonic Depression, And How Can It Be Treated?

Updated April 24, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault

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Some types of depression are so severe that they can put people into a stupor. If you have ever seen someone struggling with severe depression issues, you should know just how difficult it can be. Depression has the potential to upend a person's life completely, and it can be very hard to get things back to normal. Even severe depression can be treated, but it will take a significant amount of effort and the help of dedicated medical professionals.

Catatonic depression is one of the most severe types of depression that someone can suffer from. This depression is characterized by someone being so depressed that they will remain speechless or motionless for long periods of time. Sometimes someone suffering from this type of depression will be both speechless and motionless at the same time. This catatonic state can be very concerning for family members and friends of those suffering from it.

What Is Catatonic Depression?

As mentioned above, catatonic depression refers to a depressed individual entering a catatonic state. This catatonic state is characterized by someone remaining still or speechless for long periods of time. This isn't the only symptom related to this type of depression, but these two identifiers are unique about this catatonic state. Originally, catatonic depression was considered a unique disorder, but things have changed in the medical community.

In modern times, catatonic depression is considered a severe symptom or part of many other mental illnesses. People who suffer from this catatonic depression are often diagnosed as being bipolar or clinically depressed. These states of catatonia are also closely associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. It is not a common thing that happens to most people suffering from these conditions, but it can definitely occur as a result of them.

The Symptoms Of A Catatonic Depression State

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Several symptoms can help you to identify a catatonic depression state. The most obvious are the ones that were already mentioned while defining the condition. There are other symptoms that you should take note of too. Extremely persistent feelings of sadness are usually present in patients who suffer from catatonic depression. This profound sadness can occur daily, in many cases, and will at least happen several times a week.

Many of the other symptoms are also associated with other major types of depression. A loss of interest in activities that used to appeal to someone is a common symptom of depression. Problems maintaining an appetite or a persistent urge to eat can be signs of depression too. This can lead to the symptom of sudden weight loss or weight gain.

People suffering from severe depression like this will also often have difficulties getting out of bed in the morning. They may not feel like they have the strength to get out of bed and face the world. Sometimes people seek solace in their beds and try to hide from their problems. This is usually combined with feelings of both guilt and worthlessness.

Sometimes patients who are suffering from catatonic depression will have cognitive problems too. They may have difficulties thinking and will have trouble concentrating on something. This can negatively impact their ability to make decisions and will often leave the patient feeling frustrated. It can be difficult for people in this state to handle their finances or make important decisions.

Catatonic depression is also closely associated with thoughts of suicide. There is often a deep sense of self-loathing in individuals suffering from this type of depression. It can be so strong that people decide to harm themselves. It is crucial to seek help for a loved one if you notice any signs of suicidal thoughts or behavior. Time is of the essence when a patient starts showing these types of symptoms. They will need the proper treatment to avoid harming themselves. Even when things look very severe, it will be possible to turn things around and help them to get back to living a normal life.

Causes Of Catatonic Depression

We know that catatonic depression is related to other mental illnesses. People who wind up suffering from this very severe form of depression are usually diagnosed with another type of depression. The cause of this depression needs to be examined in a couple of ways. There is the cause of the general depression experienced and the cause of the catatonic state.

The cause of general depression is typically going to be some traumatic event. Some people are prone to depression due to biological factors. Even so, the most common reason for depression is some mental trauma. For example, losing a loved one can sometimes be enough for someone to become severely depressed, and they may enter a catatonic state due to extreme emotional distress.

Conditions such as bipolar disorder, associated with catatonic depression, are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It can be somewhat complex to understand brain chemistry in its entirety, but the important thing to know is that the brain isn't operating correctly under these conditions. This can lead to mood swings, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. Bipolar disorder is a complex condition in its own right and can lead to catatonic depression depending on other factors.

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The catatonic state itself is believed to be caused by problems with neurotransmitters in your brain. These are chemicals that help your brain cells to communicate properly. The production of these neurotransmitters is irregular in people who suffer from catatonic states. This leads to problems with communication in the brain and ultimately a catatonic state.

Treating Catatonic Depression

Treating catatonic depression is very important. When people are suffering from depression that is this severe, they need to seek help as soon as possible. There are some different treatments available that should be able to help patients out significantly. Many of the approaches to treatment involve prescribing certain medications, but some other therapies will be used under the right conditions.

Medications will be prescribed to a patient suffering from catatonic depression based on other mental illnesses. If someone has bipolar disorder, he or she will likely be prescribed antidepressants and perhaps anti-anxiety medications. Aside from treating the base condition that the patient has been diagnosed with, they may also choose to prescribe medicines like psychoactive drugs.

What psychoactive drugs can do is help the neurotransmitters to function properly. This can potentially help to bring people out of a catatonic state of depression. This is a short-term treatment option that can bring a patient out of a catatonic state fairly quickly. These medicines need to be used with care, though, because most are highly addictive and dangerous.

Sometimes electroconvulsive therapy is used as well. This type of therapy is certainly not all that pleasant to think about. Electric shocks are administered to send electrical pulses to the brain. This can shock the brain out of the catatonic state. It is seen as an effective treatment, but many people only want to do this as a last resort as it will cause a seizure in the patient. Many people in the medical community see this as the safest option due to the potentially harmful nature of psychoactive drugs.

Other treatments are being researched as well. Sometimes people prescribe patients anti-psychotics to prevent the catatonic state. There are also treatments involving magnetic stimulation that are very promising. Medical science continues to evolve, and the medical community may know more about this condition shortly.

Getting Help To Cope With Depression

If you or a loved one are suffering from severe depression, you may want to seek help. Getting help to cope with depression can allow you to lighten your load. Simply being able to feel like you have someone to speak to will often be a source of comfort. Some people choose to go to a therapist to help them manage their depression symptoms. If you don't want to leave your home to attend therapy sessions, there are other options.

You could seek counseling from the comfort of your own home. This will allow you to get counseling online to take advantage of when you feel like you need the help. This can be especially useful for people who have negative thoughts and problems with self-harm. Reaching out to a professional on a bad day might be able to save someone from making a poor decision.

If you are interested in this online counseling, you can decide to sign up over at https://www.betterhelp.com/start/ today. They will match you with a professional counselor that can assist you with your depression. If you are suffering from periodic catatonic depression, then having the help of a friendly counselor can be very nice. They will do their best always to make you feel comfortable and will be a shoulder to lean on when you need it the most.

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Knowing that there are options like this available to you will be beneficial. The decision of whether or not to sign up for this counseling is completely your own. If you have other people to rely on in your life and don't feel that counseling is right for you at this time, then that is perfectly fine. You need to know that you are never alone in your battle against depression.

If you decide to reach out to professional counselors, they will do their utmost to help you deal with your issues. Coping with depression is a lot simpler when you aren't trying to carry the burden all alone. Don't be afraid to rely on others when you need a little help. Some so many people are hoping for you to feel better, and it can happen when you keep putting forth your best effort.

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