Monday, September 10

Narcolepsy + Cataplexy + Depression = Prozac!

The mystery drug that I mentioned in my last post? Prozac. If you just said to yourself, "Really? Hm..." Then we shared the same reaction.

It was almost some sort of joke:

Prozac can reduce the severity of cataplexy!
Prozac can increase the severity of cataplexy.

Prozac can restore a dampened libido!
Prozac can cause a loss of libido.

Prozac can improve depression!
Prozac can increase depression and lead to suicidal thoughts.

"Are you kidding me?" I yelled. Okay, I didn't really yell, but I was baffled. So basically - as with many "solutions" the world has to offer - it was a crapshoot. Either it would help my husband's symptoms... or it wouldn't.

As we researched Prozac, I was shocked at the stigma still attached to it. It's a running joke now of course - want a permanent smile? Pop some Prozac! But, goodness, it's been out for ages - at least since the 80s.

I can see the humor, though. My favorite Prozac joke is a cartoon that I've saved:

The verdict? Well, he has just been taking Prozac for a few weeks now, but my husband is very impressed with the improvement in his mood. It isn't such a significant lift that I've noticed him walking around with a permanent grin (which would be creepy), but he does seem to feel better. More importantly, he is impressed with the effect it's had on his cataplexy! No more extreme weakness after his naps, no more fumbling to turn a doorknob, no nausea or faint-stomach feelings after trying to stand after a nap. So the results have been positive so far. I'm happy for him, of course, and also relieved that it's covered by our insurance. The cataplexy isn't gone, but it's better.

I have a lot more to say about the symptoms of Prozac, but for now, I'm still focusing on the cataplexy information I've discovered. I didn't know anti-depressants can help with cataplexy, and I'm still trying to articulate (for the purposes of this blog & myself) exactly how that works. For those of you who have contributed so much information about cataplexy - thank you so much! It's quite informative and very interesting.

Just when it seems like I couldn't learn anything else about my husband's disease - I do!


  1. Prozac is an SSRI. It suppresses REM sleep, so it reduces the risk of Cataplexy since C is triggered by a chemical released during REM sleep. We have emotions, brain thinks it's REM, releases the chemical, BOOM. Doesn't make sense, but totally does.

    1. Hmmm, I complained that the Prozac was giving me some really weird / disturbing dreams. But, the doctor says that's good because you're supposed to have tons of REM. And, just ignore the disturbing aspect of the dreams....dreams don't mean anything.

  2. Prozac can reduce the severity of cataplexy.
    Prozac can increase the severity of cataplexy!

    I wish my PCP had known that....cause I fell into the second. And, all he wanted to do was keep jacking up the dose.

    Of course, the Google hit that he based his decision on didn't mention the second possibility.

    Though I did know there were some antidepressants that could help with EDS and C, though I haven't found a definitive list. And, I've since deleted the list of ADs to investigate...

  3. When I first discovered I had N my Dr didn't know what to do but didn't want to do nothing while I waited to see a specialist. I went on Prozac for a few months.. I was bouncy bouncy happy happy because I am naturally quite chirpy anyway, but I didn't get C once while I was on it, it completely went away. Unfortunately it just made me wide awake at night so that wasn't much fun. My C is not very bad so I don't worry about meds for that, I just take meds for the EDS now, started a few weeks ago and so far and things are good. :-)

  4. This is great info! I just had a sleep study last week, and was diagnosed with narcolepsy on the basis that I had three REMs over the course of four 20 minute naps during the day. I originally went in due to the cataplexy issues I have been having. They started very mildly six years ago, but have gotten worse over the years. The best way to describe it: muscle loss with extreme emotion. It has just been very crazy and very scary. My sleep doc put me on Nuvigil for narcolepsy, and Prozac for the cataplexy. I felt awesome the first couple if days on the Nuvigil, but it's starting to make me feel wired and extremely moody. I can deal with it, but here's the thing: do I really need to be on it?? I have no problems staying awake during the day; I'm awake at 5 am, go for a run, and am alert until about 7 pm. I usually go to bed at 9 pm. I am very routine, and I have no issues falling asleep. It's staying asleep that I struggle with. I wake up three times a night, look at the clock, and roll over and go back to sleep (my average time of falling asleep during the naps was one minute). I have not started the Prozac yet just because I wanted to see what new vigil would do.