Cataplexy is a medical condition which occurs when your muscles become extremely limp or weak as a reaction to some strong emotion like crying, laughter, anger etc though the person remains conscious throughout and it is possible that the person remembers everything that is happening during the attack. Cataplexy can also make a person collapse, but it is not a seizure. The effect of cataplexy on a person can be for a few seconds or a few minutes.
Symptoms of cataplexy
Cataplexy symptoms can be different in each person depending upon their age environment and triggers. Here are some of the symptoms of cataplexy.
- Muscle weakness
- Head falls to the side
- Jaw drops
- Muscle twitching
- Drooping eyelids
- Slurred speech
What triggers cataplexy?
Strong emotions are considered as the triggers for cataplexy which includes:
- Depressed mood
People who are affected by cataplexy also suffer from narcolepsy -a chronic sleep and neurological disorder in which the patient experiences extreme sleepiness, and wakefulness this is due to the disturbed functioning in the part of the brain that controls sleep-wake cycles. It is very rare that people with cataplexy do not have narcolepsy. In people suffering from narcolepsy the sleep cycle is different as the duration of REM sleep is impaired, wherein the sleep does not go through the stages it is supposed to, but almost immediately get into REM sleep mode, and they experience REM sleep throughout the day. Which makes it difficult to manage their sleep-wake cycles, so they end up falling asleep anytime, anywhere during the day?
It is very difficult for people with cataplexy and narcolepsy to manage their condition as it is not possible to always control your emotions, that’s why cataplexy can attack the person anywhere and anytime. It is extremely important for cataplexy patients to be alert all the time and keep their emotions under control as much as possible.
Ways to tackle cataplexy
- Since cataplexy occurs when your emotions go out of control, it is very important to be vigilant and make sure to avoid any injury in case you fall during cataplexy attack.
- Avoid activities like a climbing ladder, or swimming or trekking.
- It is very important to bring about changes in your behaviour and activities to manage cataplexy though you may have to let go of certain important things in life but to tackle cataplexy you have to make some sacrifices.
When to visit a doctor?
- If you feel you have frequent cataplexy attacks, do not ignore and get proper treatment.
- In short, take the required medicines as it may help you to deal with cataplexy attacks and also you’ll be able to live a normal life without fear of getting frequent cataplexy attacks.
- Consult an experienced doctor and discuss the possible advantages and disadvantages of medicines and also try to know what you can do to improve your chances of getting rid of frequent cataplexy attacks.
- Not treating your cataplexy can be dangerous and life-threatening.