Catatonic is a syndrome of psychic and motoric-disturbances. In the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV) it is not recognized as a separate disorder, but is associated with psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia (catatonic type), bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and other mental disorders, as well as drug abuse and/or overdose. It may also be seen in many medical disorders including infections (such as encephalitis), autoimmune disorders, focal neurologic lesions (including strokes), metabolic disturbances and abrupt or overly rapid withdrawal from benzodiazepines. It can be an adverse reaction to prescribed medication. It bears similarity to conditions such as encephalitis lethargica and neuroleptic malignant syndrome. There are a variety of treatments available, and depending on the case, one or more drugs may be used, including antipsychotics and benzodiazepines.
Patients with catatonia may experience an extreme loss of motor ability or constant hyperactive motor activity. Catatonic patients will sometimes hold rigid poses for hours and will ignore any external stimuli. Patients with catatonic excitement can die of exhaustion if not treated. Patients may also show stereotyped, repetitive movements. They may show specific types of movement known as "waxy flexibility" in which they maintain positions after being placed in them by someone else, or gegenhalten (lit. "counterhold"), in which they resist movement in proportion to the force applied by the examiner. They may repeat meaningless phrases or speak only to repeat what the examiner says.