Cataplexy is a medical condition affecting people with narcolepsy. It is characterized by sudden and uncontrollable episodes of muscle weakness, which can cause a person to collapse.
Cataplexy often results from a strong emotional reaction such as laughter, surprise, or stress. It can range in severity from a slight feeling of weakness to a complete loss of control over the body.
It is estimated that around 70 to 80 percent of people with narcolepsy experience cataplexy.
Cataplexy is treated with tricyclic antidepressants, adrenergic agonists, and sodium oxybate.
Symptoms of cataplexy include facial droopiness, slurred speech, and ptosis.
It is believed that the leading cause of cataplexy is a deficiency of hypocretin, a neurotransmitter related to the regulation of wakefulness.
Cataplexy is often misdiagnosed as seizures, panic attacks, narcolepsy without cataplexy, or psychogenic nonepileptic seizures.
Although rare, it is possible for cataplexy to occur in people who do not have narcolepsy.
Cataplexy is believed to be underrecognized and underdiagnosed due to its unpredictable and episodic nature.
Not all people with cataplexy experience symptoms similarly; some may have a single episode, while others may have multiple.
Cataplexy has been linked to the production of the hormone Cortisol, suggesting it may be linked to the body’s “fight-or-flight” response.