Cataplexy is a sudden and temporary loss of muscle tone and control, often accompanied by a feeling of weakness or paralysis. It is a hallmark symptom of narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that affects the regulation of wakefulness and sleep. Cataplexy is triggered by strong emotions such as laughter, anger, surprise, or excitement, and can last from a few seconds to several minutes.
During an episode of cataplexy, the person remains conscious but is unable to move or speak. The body remains relaxed and floppy, and the individual may drop to the ground or fall asleep. Cataplexy can be frightening and disruptive to daily life, but the person usually regains normal muscle tone and control without any lasting effects.
Treatment of cataplexy typically involves the use of medications such as sodium oxybate and tricyclic antidepressants. Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding triggers, stress management, and regular sleep habits, can also help manage symptoms. It is important for individuals with cataplexy to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment to help improve quality of life and prevent injury during episodes.