People tired due to narcolepsy symptoms 3

“Is it normal to feel weakness when I laugh?”

How narcolepsy patients with cataplexy present.

Narcolepsy patients or their caregivers may or may not recognize the presence of cataplexy.1-2

  • The presence of cataplexy can only be established by clinical interview.1-3
    • Cataplexy attacks may be so subtle that patients do not notice them or consider the sensations to be normal.1,2,4
    • Partial attacks may be limited to a sort of “fleeting sensations of weakness in the body.”4
    • In other cases, patients may be aware of their symptoms and take action to try to prevent or shorten them.3,4
      • In one study, nearly 57% of patients reported they could sense the approach of an attack and take action to try to prevent or shorten them.3
  • Sometimes symptoms are only recognized by experienced observers such as the patient’s partner.1,4
  • It may be helpful to have the patient’s partner participate in the clinical interview.1,4

Cataplexy can have a distinct presentation in children.5

  • Cataplexy can present differently in children than in adults, especially in younger patients close to disease onset.5
  • In children, cataplexy often presents with a prominent facial involvement, called “cataplectic facies,” consisting of5:
    • Bilateral ptosis
    • Mouth opening
    • Tongue protrusion
  • The facial features of cataplexy may occur without clear emotional triggers.5
    • Emotional triggers in children may also be subtle and difficult to detect.

Cataplexy can be triggered by a variety of strong emotions.1,6,7

  • Positive emotions, such as those associated with laughter or humor, are the most frequent and potent triggers.1,3,6
  • Negative emotions, such as those associated with anger, are also quite common.3,6,7
  • The element of surprise, as associated with several situations, is also a frequent factor.3,6

Emotions typically associated with triggering cataplexy attacks.3

What sort of strong emotions typically trigger cataplexy attacks?

(Survey Study: Percent of Patients Reporting)*
Emotions that trigger cataplexy attacks chart
*In a survey of 109 patients with narcolepsy with cataplexy and CSF hypocretin-1 deficiency from 2 large sleep medicine centers, patients reported the emotions that triggered their cataplexy attacks.3

Interested in more insights?

Find out how narcolepsy patients or their caregivers talk about cataplexy in their own words.

Simply scroll down to view videos about each muscle group.






Videos represent actual patients describing cataplexy using their own words. Not all patient experiences will be the same.

Cataplexy may affect your patients at any time during waking hours.