Therapeutic response to lorazepam and dopaminergic metabolism were investigated in 18 neuroleptically naive acute catatonic patients. They were diagnosed as catatonic according to criteria by Lohr and Rosebush and treated exclusively with lorazepam (2-4 mg) during the first 24 h. Dopaminergic metabolism (plasma HVA, plasma MHPG), anxiety (HAM-A) and parkinsonic/dyskinetic movements (SEPS, AIMS) were measured under standard conditions before initial treatment with lorazepam (day 0) and 24 h after initial treatment (day 1). On day 0 responders to lorazepam treatment (complete remission of catatonic syndrome after 24 h according to Rosebush and Lohr) showed significantly higher (P=0.004) plasma HVA (130.4±51.2 pmol/ml; means ± SD) than non-responders (no remission of catatonic syndrome after 24 h; 73.2±40.5 pmol/ml; means ± SD). On day 1 plasma HVA did not differ any more significantly between both groups Clinically, responders showed significantly higher HAM-A (P=0.025) and AIMS (P=0.022) scores as well as significantly lower SEPS (P=0.049) scores than non-responders on day 0. Hence catatonic short-term responders and non-responders to lorazepam can be distinguished with regard to plasma HVA, anxiety and dyskinetic/parkinsonic movements.
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