Narcolepsy: The Naked Truth
For millions of people around the world, narcolepsy is a misunderstood and little-known condition. This doesn’t mean it’s not real or that those affected by it are lying about their symptoms. In fact, narcolepsy has been recognized as a medical condition for over 100 years, but researchers still don’t know what causes it or how best to treat it.
What is Narcolepsy?
Narcolepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden attacks of sleep. People with narcolepsy experience periods of excessive daytime sleepiness, often every few minutes or seconds. These periods can last from a few seconds to several minutes. During these episodes, they may experience hallucinations or even cataplexy (sudden loss of muscle tone). Narcolepsy affects both children and adults but it usually begins between ages 10 and 30. Narcolepsy is considered to be an autoimmune disease because it appears due to the immune system attacking specific cells in the brain stem area which produce hypocretin, also called orexin.
Are people with narcolepsy depressed?
Depression is a common symptom of narcolepsy. Depression, however, is not a normal part of narcolepsy. Depression is treatable with medication and therapy.
Depression can be disabling and requires treatment in order to improve your quality of life. When you are depressed, even the smallest task may seem insurmountable—from brushing your teeth to getting out of bed in the morning to seeing friends on weekends. This can lead to isolation from others as well as health problems over time.
How many people have narcolepsy in the U.S.?
In the United States, there are around 60,000 people with narcolepsy. That equates to roughly 1 in 2,000 people. Narcolepsy is more common in men than women, and it’s also more common in people of European descent than any other ethnicity. The average age at which symptoms begin is 15 years old for children and 30 years old for adults—though some can experience onset as late as 40 or 50 years old!
Is there a cure?
The good news is that narcolepsy is a manageable condition with treatments and management techniques. Medications and lifestyle changes can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. These interventions include cognitive behavioral therapy, which treats the symptoms of narcolepsy by teaching you how to deal with them in an effective way.
If you suspect that your child has narcolepsy, talk to their doctor about making an appointment for a sleep study so they can be diagnosed properly and begin treatment if needed.
Does this affect my ability to drive or work?
If you have narcolepsy, it’s important to know that your ability to drive and work can be affected. Narcolepsy tends to come in waves and the symptoms can vary depending on the person. Some people with narcolepsy fall asleep at any time during the day, while others only experience daytime sleepiness and sleep attacks during specific times of day or night.
Regardless of how you experience narcolepsy, it is important that you continue working or driving if possible so that you can continue providing for yourself and your family. However, if your symptoms are making it difficult for you to get through the day without falling asleep or performing poorly on tasks at work, then talk with your doctor about ways to adjust your schedule so that it better fits around when these symptoms occur.
Could I be pregnant?
Pregnancy is not an automatic bar to narcolepsy. However, consult your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Your doctor will be able to evaluate whether a particular medication is safe for you during pregnancy and whether there are any lifestyle changes that might help. You may also have questions about how narcolepsy affects sleep during pregnancy; this can vary depending on the severity of symptoms and other factors.
The important thing to remember is that narcolepsy symptoms can change over time and in different situations, so it’s important to keep an open mind about what could be triggering them for you at any given moment.
Narcolepsy is a misunderstood and little known condition that affects many people around the world.
Narcolepsy is a misunderstood and little known condition that affects many people around the world. For example, it is estimated that approximately 1 in 2,000 people suffer from narcolepsy. However, some estimates suggest that as many as 20-100 per 100,000 of us suffer from this sleep disorder. The exact cause is still unknown but what we do know is that it can have a profound impact on your daily life and relationships with family members, friends and work colleagues.
It’s important to understand what you can do to manage narcolepsy symptoms so you can live well with them at home or at work – wherever you are.
I hope this article has helped you understand what narcolepsy is and how it affects people. If you know someone with narcolepsy, please be sensitive to their needs and support them through this difficult time. If you’re concerned about yourself or someone else, please talk to your doctor or call the National Sleep Foundation.