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Waxy Flexibility Meaning : Causes, and Effective Treatment

Waxy flexibility is one of the rare symptom of catatonia. In this symptom of catatonia your limbs might resist, like when a doctor move your body or limbs they bend like a warm candle and you are not able come out of that position until someone moves you. This symptom makes it hard for you to speak or move, there are many symptoms of it one of the most common are schizophrenia, mental health conditions, mood disorder, and mental illness etc. According to your symptom condition [mild or critical] you may face difficulties that are even very harmful for life. So it’s important to consult with your doctor.

Consult your doctor for any symptom of catatonia and waxy flexibility

Waxy Flexibility Meaning

Waxy flexibility is a symptom of catatonia in which the person is mostly unresponsive even when they are awake and stay in a position for long times. For example- If doctor changes the position of your hands or legs then will be in that position for a while.

In this symptom of catatonia if you move the limbs of the person, and leave them then they will bend like a warm wax candle.

Even if the position is painful and uncomfortable the person will stay in the position until someone comes and moves him/her.

What Is Catatonia In Waxy Flexibility?

Catatonia is a disorder that have group of symptoms. The most common symptoms of catatonia are a person can’t speak, move or respond. Both catatonia and waxy flexibility are seen in people with schizophrenia, mood disorders and neurological disorders.

It was first described on 1874 but on time they thought it’s because of schizophrenia but after many investigations it’s found that it’s not specific for schizophrenia but people with major depressive disorder, and medical conditions can show symptoms of catatonia.

Symptoms of Waxy Flexibility

While going through it you may also see some other symptoms. They are list below:

1] Mutism: Unable to response or speak.

2] Stupor: Unable to think properly.

Waxy flexibility symptom

3] Posturing: State in which the person holds a specific position until someone moves him/her.

4] Staring: Gazing at a place for long time

5] Immobility: State in which person is not able to move.

6] Grimacing: Face twists in ugly way to express pain, dislikes etc..

7] Agitation: The symptom of symptom of catatonia in a person acts upset and irritable.

Waxy Flexibility Causes and Effects

The cause of waxy flexibility may be linked to dysfunction in nervous system or any other parts of the brain that are responsible for movement and behaviour of human body.

In many researches it is found that there is decreased GABA activity in the brain of people with catatonia. So benzodiazepine is very effective for them as it is a drug that acts on GABA.

It can catch people with bad mental health and with according to their genes.

Who’s Is At Risk For Waxy Flexibility?

People with bad mental health, mood disorders, and many other neurological disorders are at risk for waxy flexibility.

Many of researches show that almost 20% of people with catatonia have the symptoms of schizophrenia and 45% of people with catatonia the symptoms of mood disorders.

Remaining people who have catatonia have the medical condition contributing to their catatonia given below:

1] Diabetic Keota acidosis

2] Stroke

3] Heat stroke

4] Uraemia

5] Head Trauma

6] Encephalitis

7] Autoimmune disease

8] Cushing’s Disease

9] Hyperthyroidism

summary waxy flexibility overview Treatment

In the treatment, the first thing that doctor will do is stop your antipsychotic drugs/ medications if you are using them for managing mood disorders or any other mental problems.

Doctors usually treat catatonia firstly with benzodiazepines. Mostly lorazepam is used by the doctor, give you a shot under your tongue.

There is a other common and faster responding therapy compared to other symptoms than waxy flexibility is ECT electroconvulsive therapy. In this therapy they will put electrodes on both sides of your head and send electrical pulses through your brain. It is used when you do not feel better by benzodiazepines.


Waxy flexibility is a rare symptom of catatonia. People with mental health conditions, mood disorders, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, and neurological disorders have higher risk of getting this symptom.

In this symptom your limbs are moved in a way like warm candle and if someone moves your arms so, there will be slightly resistance and you may not be able to move from that position until someone moves you.

If this symptom occur to you then firstly consult with your doctor. It is treated by benzodiazepines and ECT it is so effective for waxy flexibility compared to other symptoms of catatonia.


1 Why is it called waxy flexibility?

Ans. It is called waxy flexibility because your limbs are moved in a way like warm candle and if someone moves your arms so, there will be slightly resistance.

2 What is the difference between catalepsy and waxy flexibility?

Ans. In catalepsy the person gets in the position and be in the position until someone moves him. In waxy flexibility while moving person’s limbs there occurs light resistance.

3 Is waxy flexibility a positive symptom?

Ans. No, it is a negative symptom.

4 What is another name for waxy flexibility?

Ans. It’s another name is catalepsy.

5 What is the difference between catalepsy and catatonia?

Ans. Catalepsy is one of the symptom of catatonia.

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