Catatonia is a neuropsychiatric syndrome characterized by a variety of motor, behavioral, emotional, and autonomic abnormalities caused by general medical, neurological, and psychiatric disorders, as well as by medications and drugs of abuse. Although there has been a plethora of research on catatonia over the last twenty years, it is still underdiagnosed. Studies of catatonia involving older adults have been sparse, despite its apparent high prevalence, higher risk of serious complications, and of association with non-psychiatric causes. This paper aims to provide an introduction to catatonia as a syndrome, as well as an account of its specificities in older adults, especially those in general hospitals, with the aim to raise awareness of catatonia amongst clinicians working with this age group in acute medical settings, so improvements in its diagnostic rates, treatment, and outcomes can be achieved.
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