Some people say that narcolepsy is more of a curse than a disease. In fact, it is a chronic sleep disorder and neurological disorder in which patients experience sudden attacks of sleep in addition to excessive sleepiness. In this article, let’s look at the symptoms and treatment of narcolepsy.
The Narcolepsy is debilitating and is often stigmatized. The incidence of the disease in the general population is very low, which means that the majority of the population knows little about it. This condition, also known as Gélineau syndrome, is still not curable. However, there are various treatments available to ensure that the patient can have a decent quality of life and control over their daily life.
Dr. Meir H. Kryger, an expert in medicine and sleep psychology, says that there are few diseases that are more complex than narcolepsy. In one of his articles, he explains that he has treated patients who were mistakenly diagnosed with schizophrenia instead of being diagnosed with narcolepsy.
Children and adolescents are more likely to be misdiagnosed because of the hallucinations that narcolopsy can cause. Those affected see imaginary objects and people and these types of experiences traumatize them, because it is certainly not easy to live in a world in which they cannot distinguish between what is real and what belongs in the dream world. It is a life of fear and frustration in which the patient cannot control his own body.
What is narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder. But scientists still don’t understand what triggers them. At least experts were able to clarify that there is a hereditary component. They identified certain genetic markers that determine whether or not a person is at a particularly high risk of developing narcolepsy.
Another characteristic of narcolepsy is that autoimmune processes play a role. For reasons unknown, the body attacks itself, changing certain processes and reversing the body’s patterns and cycles. Therefore, the sleep patterns of those affected are disturbed and they experience dreams and nightmares while they are awake.
Characteristics of narcolepsy
When we think of a narcoleptic, we envision a person who can completely collapse from one second to the next. We think of someone who sleeps a lot during the day and has insomnia at night. However, narcolepsy is much more than that. Here are some of the symptoms of narcolepsy:
- Most narcoleptics suffer from mood disorders. Intense emotions, sometimes even simple laughter, can lead to muscle paralysis and fainting.
- Another symptom is daytime sleepiness. One strange aspect of this condition is that a person’s need to close their eyes and sleep occurs not only in monotonous, repetitive situations, such as when they are sitting on the couch, watching TV, or reading, but also when the person is driving , work or just share a meal with friends.
- Hallucinations: As mentioned earlier, hallucinations are one of the most intense experiences the patient can have. These can be auditory, visual or tactile.
- The sleep paralysis is another common symptom. This is a type of parasomnia that is somewhere between sleeping and waking. The person feels unable to move or react, which leaves them with a deep sense of fear and terror.
- It is also common for the patient to have memory and concentration problems.
- Some people also suffer from eating disorders.
Treatment of narcolepsy
Narcolepsy affects men and women equally, and even animals. The treatment of the individual patient is based on his or her individual needs. Here are the most common treatment strategies:
- Planned naps and consistent sleep hygiene are the basis of the therapy.
- Doctors often prescribe stimulants such as methylphenidate, dextroamphetamine, and methamphetamine.
- Antidepressants, especially tricyclic antidepressants, are very useful for treating hallucinations and sleep paralysis.
In summary, it can be said that while the prevalence of this disease is low, it can seriously affect the daily life of patients. In addition, the patient often feels that he is losing control and his sanity, especially hallucinations occur frequently. However, with the help of good healthcare professionals and appropriate treatment, the patient’s condition can improve significantly.
We should be more sensitive to those with this sleep disorder and treat their condition like any other illness rather than as something unusual.