Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that is very disruptive to one's life. As was discussed in my last post, individuals with Narcolepsy suffer from excessive sleepiness throughout the day and an incredible urge to take brief naps, which may or may not be refreshing and relieve sleepiness for a period of time.
While there is currently no standard treatment for Narcolepsy, the symptoms of the disorder can be managed using a combination of techniques.
First, medication can be prescribed to help alleviate sleepiness during the daytime. Medications typically prescribed to manage Narcolepsy include stimulants, such as Ritalin and Provigil, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) anti-depressants, such as Paxil and Zoloft, and/or tricyclic antidepressants, such as Vivactiil.
Many individuals also develop depression as a result of the sleep attacks associated with Narcolepsy. It is normal for individuals who feel as if they have little or no control over their lives to develop depression.
In order to treat depression, individuals may seek counseling from a social worker, psychologist, or other licensed therapist and/or go to a support group. Anti-depressants may also be prescribed by a physician or psychiatrist in order to treat depression associated with Narcolepsy.
Finally, incorporating specific behavioral changes into one's day can help individuals who suffer with Narcolepsy manage symptoms. Obtaining and maintaining good sleep hygiene is an essential part of managing Narcolepsy. Please visit my post on sleep hygiene to learn what good sleep hygiene is.
Other behavioral practices that can help manage Narcolepsy effectively include taking a few short naps during the day spanning 10-15 minutes each, avoiding operating heavy machinery, driving, and other dangerous tasks whenever possible, exercising regularly, breaking up large and/or tedious tasks into smaller ones, and avoiding ingesting caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
Additionally, alerting your family, friends, boss, and co-workers to your condition may be helpful to you, as these individuals can help you recall things that happen at work or home if you are unexpectedly hit with a sleep attack. Wearing a medical identification bracelet is also a good idea to alert medical professionals to your condition in any case that you are unable to tell them yourself.
Narcolepsy is a difficult sleeping disorder to handle, but there are treatment options available that may help you or someone you know who suffers from this condition. If you think you suffer from Narcolepsy, talk to your doctor about your symptoms.