What is cataplexy and what are its symptoms and its treatment


Updated:19/02/2021 16: 49h


The cataplexia It is a little-known disease that consists of the sudden loss of muscle tone, either totally or partially, when there is an alteration in the mood or a situation occurs that causes startles to the sufferer. It is usually associated with 20% of people with narcolepsy, a chronic sleep disorder characterized by extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden bouts of sleep.

People with this disorder suffer attacks, which usually do not last more than 30 seconds, in which the patient, fully conscious, can’t control your muscles or move. They usually occur when strong emotions, such as laughter or anger, are manifested. Normally the neck relaxes and the head falls forward, the jaw drops, and the knees can bend, causing falls.

The most common symptoms

The most common symptoms of cataplexy are:

Inability to control all or part of the muscles of the body.

Muscle relaxation, causing the head to drop forward and the jaw to drop.

– The muscles of the face may contract and twitch, showing silly faces or expressions that cannot be controlled.

– May exist difficulties to pronounce words.

– Sometimes they can occur dizziness and fainting.

Warning signs

Cataplexy is not usually a serious disorder, although it can interfere with the daily lives of people who suffer from it, because an attack can occur at any time that a significant mood change.

One of the most common signs in people suffering from a cataplastic episode issudden muscle weakness, which may be accompanied by slight dizziness or fainting and, sometimes, difficulty speaking. Although they do not usually lengthen, this muscle weakness, which can also cause falls if the muscles of the lower extremities are affected, can last for several minutes.


Cataplexy has no cure, but they do exist treatments to alleviate symptoms. Some of them are drug-based antidepressants and others use the sodium oxybate, which can also help control daytime sleepiness if the cataplexy patient also suffers from narcolepsy. However, it will always be a doctor who must decide the treatment to follow.

On the other hand, since people with cataplexy are, in a high percentage, narcolepsy, they recommend rest and plan daytime naps.

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