Catatonia and Delirium in COVID-19

This is just a short post on delirium and catatonia in patients sick with COVID-19, which is important to look out for. There are two references below that are pertinent. One is a case report of a patient diagnosed with both catatonia and delirium in a woman with COVID-19 (Amouri et al). One of the co-authors is critical care intensivist, Dr. Wes Ely, Every Deep-Drawn Breath. Anecdotally, when Dr. Ely gave his talk on delirium at an Internal Medicine Grand Rounds presentation on April 12, 2019, I asked him what he thought should be the role of the consulting psychiatrist’s role in ICU delirium. He seemed to remember me and said we would be helpful in identifying the catatonic variant of delirium. What is ironic about this is that, while benzodiazepines are known to cause delirium, they can treat reverse catatonia in the setting of delirium and other neuropsychiatric and medical conditions.

The other article (Baller et al) is an excellent summary of pharmacological recommendations for delirium associated with COVID-19. There’s a nice pharmacologic treatment algorithm on page 589.


Amouri J, Andrews PS, Heckers S, Ely EW, Wilson JE. A Case of Concurrent Delirium and Catatonia in a Woman With Coronavirus Disease 2019. J Acad Consult Liaison Psychiatry. 2021 Jan-Feb;62(1):109-114. doi: 10.1016/j.psym.2020.09.002. Epub 2020 Sep 15. PMID: 33069380; PMCID: PMC7491455.

Baller EB, Hogan CS, Fusunyan MA, Ivkovic A, Luccarelli JW, Madva E, Nisavic M, Praschan N, Quijije NV, Beach SR, Smith FA. Neurocovid: Pharmacological Recommendations for Delirium Associated With COVID-19. Psychosomatics. 2020 Nov-Dec;61(6):585-596. doi: 10.1016/j.psym.2020.05.013. Epub 2020 May 21. PMID: 32828569; PMCID: PMC7240270.

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

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