Medications for Cataplexy

Girl asleep at desk

The severity of cataplexy symptoms varies. Some people with narcolepsy never experience an episode of cataplexy, while others have multiple episodes per day. Where you fall in that spectrum, as well as other health considerations, will determine whether your doctor suggests a medication for cataplexy. Some of these medications also have the added benefit of helping with hallucinations and sleep paralysis.

Sodium Oxybate  is a liquid solution taken at night. Sodium oxybate is the salt form of a chemical that naturally occurs in the brain. It’s a sleep-inducing agent and may help with narcolepsy symptoms by affecting the release of dopamine and noradrenaline—two chemicals that control the sleep-wake balance. It can improve nighttime sleep as well as reduce daytime sleepiness and cataplexy. 

Antidepressants are commonly used to improve cataplexy. This is thought to be because antidepressants suppress rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and the paralysis of REM during waking hours is what causes cataplexy.