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Forums / Supporting family and friends with a mental health condition (carers) / Advice on Helping Someone During a Catatonic Episode?

Topic: Advice on Helping Someone During a Catatonic Episode?

5 posts, 0 answered
  1. sinkingships
    sinkingships avatar
    2 posts
    20 August 2021

    Hi everyone,

    My friend is currently recovering from a catatonic episode that happened sometime last week, and I was wondering if anybody had any advice or experience in helping someone during these situations? This isn't her first episode, but it is the first to happen around other people and everyone was at a loss for what to do. She's currently seeking psychiatric help, but I was just wondering if there was anything that loved ones could do to support her as an episode is happening, and as she is coming out of it. If anyone has any information or ideas to share, I'd really appreciate it.

    Thanks in advance

  2. HappyHelper88
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    HappyHelper88 avatar
    67 posts
    23 August 2021 in reply to sinkingships
    Hi There, Thankyou for sharing this. It is very hard to see someone you love experiencing this and it can be a condition that is out of our control. Depending on what is triggering it and the conditions she may be suffering it is hard to really say. She would be so confused before during and after an episode and it would be so helpful just being there for her and explaining to her what happened. Catatonia can be caused by so many factors so it would be best to find out from her psych whats happening and the treatment plan. In terms of what u can do for her honestly just being there and offering her support is such a small gesture that is also a very large gesture for her during such a scary experience. You are a great friend and also an amazing person just for caring so much about her to seek help. The most important thing through this experience is to look after your mental health and remeber you are not alone, there is also support Around.
    1 person found this helpful
  3. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    10207 posts
    23 August 2021 in reply to sinkingships

    Dear Sinkingships~

    I'm pleased to join HappyHelper88 in welcoming you to the Support Forum. You are a very capable and thoughtful person to seek advice and your freind is lucky. I'd have to say the HappyHelper88 has covered the situation well. I'm also pleased that your avatar is not in fact a picture of a sinking ship:)

    As to what to do, that will vary and is best described by the medical professional treating your friend. This may require your friend's permission, though there is nothing to stop you gaining "general advice" from that professional. I'd suggest you do this promptly in case of another onset.

    Beyond that the first thing to do is ensure your friend is in safe, quiet and comfortable physical circumstances with unobstructed airways and ensure if their catatonia involves movement the do not injure themselves.

    It may well be you friend may be disoriented, frightened or confused when emerging from such a state and having someone familiar nearby who can care for them, reassure and explain as needed can be very helpful and soothing. Similarly help with simple tasks may be needed.

    There is also nothing wrong in asking your friend what they need.

    So far we have talked of a recovery situation, if an episode starts then seek medical help straight away, unless instructed otherwise by your friend's psychiatric support.

    Actually if you do manage to to find further information we would be very interested

    Good luck

    Croix

  4. sinkingships
    sinkingships avatar
    2 posts
    2 September 2021

    Hi all,

    Sorry I haven't been online to respond to your kind replies, but thank you both so much for your input! She's doing much better at the moment and is taking medication to help with her episodes. Her diagnosis was "depression with catatonic features," and luckily there aren't any more serious health implications to worry about at the moment. You both offered a lot of helpful advice, and hopefully I can give some suggestions that might be useful for anyone else in a similar situation:

    • The most important thing to remember is to try and stay as calm as possible, and to reassure your loved one in a that you're there for them. It can be good to acknowledge that they might be feeling scared or confused, but to again tell them that everything's going to be OK and that you're going to stay right there with them through it.
    • My friend says she's fully conscious and aware during her episodes (though this may be different for everyone), so it can be a helpful distraction to watch a favourite movie/TV show, listen to some music, or even just to talk to them as you would any other time through their episode.
    • It's best not to try and move them too much, unless they're in a position which might be dangerous to them, but it can be comforting to put an arm around them or hold their hand.
    • I would advise not leaving them alone unless absolutely necessary, but to make sure that anyone who needs to know what's happening is aware of what's going on.
    • Ultimately the best person to ask about what you can do to support someone through a catatonic episode is the person themselves, but this can be a really frightening and overwhelming experience, especially if it's new, so be patient and understanding if they are unsure or aren't ready to talk about it.

    These suggestions come from personal experience and hopefully they can be of some help, but it can also be helpful to talk to a specialist for more guidance.

    Thank you both again for kind words, I'm very grateful you took the time to respond to my post and offer your support! Hopefully I can try and be of some help myself elsewhere on the forums :)

  5. Croix
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    Croix avatar
    10207 posts
    4 September 2021 in reply to sinkingships

    Dear Sinkingships~

    I'm very glad the matter is getting sorted, your friend has been diagnosed and consequently under treatment, plus you no longer have uncertainty and even fear to contend with.

    I do like you points you have given, they sound very sensible advice and I'm sure many will gain from them

    I hope things keep improving and would like to know how you get on in the future

    Croix

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