Stupor: Causes, Symptoms, Types and Treatment

The stuporous state represents total immobility, mutism, and weakened responses to all stimuli.

In psychiatry, a stupor is one of the types of motor impairment.

An individual suffering from a psychological stupor does not react to events, nor are there reactions to common negative messages, such as pain, noise, or cold. For a comparatively long period, such a patient cannot eat, not speak, and very often can be frozen in one position.

The state of stupor can become a final result.

Some stupid patients often lie, without changing their positions, refusing to eat, or answering questions for days or weeks.

Other patients sit or stand, often as if they were petrified in a strange position, wrapped in a blanket with their heads or turned towards the wall, absolutely motionless until they are forcibly moved to another place.


It manifests in the suppression of several mental operations, motor skills, cognitive activity, and speech in the first shift. Patients who are in this state are characterized by immobility.

In some cases, the disease may be combined with various psychopathologically oriented symptoms, such as delirium.


The main factors that cause the appearance of this state include serious psychodramatic events, stressful situations, mental disorders, situations of negative emotional coloration, organic lesions of brain structures, various bruises or concussions, intoxication, and diseases infectious.

However, until today it is impossible to establish with the absolute probability that the list of reasons is complete. Specialists with a global reputation in the field of psychiatry. They enter into discussions about the possible causes of the development of the disease.

Thus, among many suppositions, several catatonic stupors stand out, more characteristic of forming a fixed type—deficiency in the brain of gamma-aminobutyric acid, its critical inhibitory neurotransmitter.

The lack of this acid can cause violations of the musculoskeletal system. And this is the main symptom of catatonia. The catatonic stupor may arise due to an unexpected stop in the production of dopamine by the body.

In 2004, specialists began to consider the formation of the catatonic syndrome as a genetic response that occurs in situations of stress or circumstances that threaten the life of animals before encountering a predator.

The whole body is paralyzed due to fear, resulting in the animal’s organism being reconfigured to rapid death. Such fear reaction on a subconscious level has been preserved in human individuals and is manifested in exacerbations of psychosomatic illnesses or intense attacks.

The catatonic stupor, according to this hypothesis, is expressed in the characteristic reaction of individuals to the inevitable death that torments them from the beginning of the disease. Therefore, these hypotheses cause the appearance of the catatonic syndrome as a consequence of schizophrenia and other psychosomatic disorders.


Being in a state of stupor, people do not contact the environment, do not react to unpleasant events or conditions, or several inconveniences (noise, dirty bed).

Patients in a stupor may not move even when there is a fire, earthquake, or another natural disaster.

Usually, the tension begins with the chewing muscles, descends to the cervical region, then is distributed in the back, arms, and legs. In this state, the emotional and pupil response to pain is absent.

The symptoms of stupor include:

Loss of consciousness, absolute immobility, partial or complete silence (mutism), increased muscle tone, negativism, depression of reflex reactions.

Fall into a stupor of emotional nature:

It is characteristic of the feminine part of the population. Emotional stupor often occurs due to intense emotional disturbances (horror or pain experienced). It is characterized by blocking motor activity and emotional-affective activity; in addition, the thinking function slows down.

Such an attack, in most cases, goes without specific treatment but can sometimes lead to a state of panic, during which the patient will endeavor to perform acts of chaotic orientation. A consequence of this may be the onset of depression.

The stuporous state of this type can be observed in women who witnessed a catastrophe or an accident. It can also appear due to passing exams or a battle with soldiers. The depressive stupor is peculiar to the same extent as the feminine part of the population and the strong half of humanity.

And as a general rule, it is accompanied by a stooped posture and grimace of suffering on the faces of the subjects looking down. Patients in a similar state can respond to interrogative expressions with monosyllabic phrases in a whisper.

This variation of the state of stupor can be observed for a couple of hours and sometimes weeks. People in this state can refuse food. Overly sensitive, emotional, vulnerable. People and creative individuals, characterized by a subtle internal organization, have a mental stupor.

It is expressed in the form of apathy, laziness, melancholy, creative crisis, inability to think, feel, and inability to act differently. With this state comes a kind of spiritual “rigidity.”

Hysteric stupor is seen more frequently in emotionally overly women. It usually manifests as affective impermanence, whose cause may be the modified environment. This type of stupor in a challenging environment that threatens the health, life, or well-being of a woman can be a protective reaction.

It can manifest itself in absolute immobility or active emotionality and psychomotor agitation. Patients who suffer this type of stupor are characterized by increased mimicry.

Then, for example, patients can look, grimace, and cry uselessly. An apathetic stupor manifests in passivity, immobility, and lack of aspirations and interests.


There are several types of stupor: negativistic, depressive, apathetic, and catatonic, as well as stupid state with waxy flexibility or muscle numbness.

The negative stupor is expressed in mutism and absolute immobility, but any action to change the patient’s position provokes strong opposition and resistance.

A sick individual does not rise quickly from a bed, but then, when lifting it, it is impossible to lie down again. Often a passive contraction is added to the active one. For example, if a doctor extends his hand to a patient, he, in turn, hides behind his back when he asks him to open his eyes, close his eyes, etc.

A depressive stupor is characteristic: almost complete immobility, a depressed expression, and a wince. When you manage to contact them, you can get a monosyllabic response.

The depressive stupor in a person can be suddenly replaced by an excited state, in which patients jump and get hurt, can be injured, or roll down the floor with howls (melancholic raptus). With the severe depression of endogenous nature, a depressive stupor may occur.

Patients who suffer from apathetic stupor lie on their backs. Nor do they observe a reaction to what is happening around them, and muscle tone is reduced. They answer monosyllabically to the questions and with significant delay. However, there is an adequate emotional reaction when interacting with family members.

Sleep disorders and anorexia are observed. The catatonic stupor is freezing in fear, numbness in fear and impotence, and the more severe suffering of the inner “I.”

Patients with catatonia sometimes do not understand if they are still alive, can produce actions, and are not sure of the integrity of their personality. Therefore, anything that can lead to restoring the authenticity of the experience will play a therapeutic role for the patient.

For example, with the loss of your identity, you sometimes need to apply your name to improve the patient’s condition. A purely verbal therapeutic approach is often insufficient in the severe course of the disease.

Other types of catatonic stupor appear when delirious experiences are charged, for example, when the individual is ecstatic.

For example, it freezes with the hand raised or in an awkward position. It is often observed that there is a Pavlov symptom, which consists in the lack of response in patients to the questioned phrases given in a normal voice, but at the same time responds to a whisper.

At night, sick people can walk, sometimes eat, and interact with the environment.

Osteoporosis with muscular numbness. In such patients, the musculature is tense; the eyes are closed, and the lips are extended forward.

People who suffer this type of stupor often have to feed through a tube, as they refuse to eat. Usually, doctors disinhibit amylaphone, and patients are provided after the muscular numbness weakens or disappears.


Many people worry about the question: “How to get out of the stupor”? Naturally, only specialists, psychotherapists, and psychologists can help with this.

However, you still need to know how to help a loved one or someone in an environment if there are indications that the subject intends to fall into a state of stupor or has already entered that state and needs help.

Therefore, during the first shift, relieving stress will help the particular points be located precisely in the middle of the pupils, equidistant from the eyebrows and the line of hair growth. Massage these points with the help of your thumbs.

In addition, it is recommended to try to provoke an individual in a state of stupor and intense emotions, either positive or negative (better negative). For example, you can slap on the face.

Getting out of the stupor can help flex the individual fingers and press them hard on the palms, straightening the thumbs.

Then, the answer to the question: “how to get out of stupor” is hidden in the emotional shock of the organism and the synchronization of the sufferer’s breathing with the subject that helps him. To this end, you can put your hand on the chest of an individual who has fallen into a stupor and adapt to your breathing rhythm.