Medications for Narcolepsy

Medications for Narcolepsy

The medicines below are used to treat narcolepsy. Only the most basic problems are listed. Ask your doctor if there are any other steps you need to take. Use each of them as your doctor tells you. If you have any questions or can’t follow the package instructions, call your doctor.

Prescription Medicines

Stimulants

  • Mazindol
  • Modafinil
  • Armodafinil
  • Methylphenidate
  • Dextroamphetamine

Medicine for Cataplexy

  • Sodium oxybate

Tricyclic antidepressants

  • Imipramine
  • Desipramine
  • Clomipramine
  • Protriptyline

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

  • Fluoxetine
  • Paroxetine
  • Sertraline

Stimulants

Common names:

  • Modafinil
  • Armodafinil
  • Mazindol
  • Methylphenidate
  • Dextroamphetamine

Stimulants can help you be more alert and awake. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. These can interact with many other kinds, even those found over-the-counter. What you take may depend on if you've had seizures.

You may have problems with:

Medicine for Cataplexy

  • Sodium oxybate

This will lower the number of cataplexy attacks. But, it must be taken as told. It can lead to misuse. As a result, it's a controlled substance. You can only get it at certain places.

You may have problems with:

  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Sleep problems
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Bedwetting

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Common names:

  • Imipramine
  • Desipramine
  • Clomipramine
  • Protriptyline

These are used to lessen attacks of:

  • Weakness
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep paralysis

You may have problems with:

  • Dry mouth
  • Lightheadedness, drowsiness, or blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Sensitivity to sun
  • Blood sugar changes in people with diabetes
  • Feeling hotter than normal
  • Risk of mood and behavior changes—may involve thoughts of suicide in some people, young adults may be at a higher risk for this

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Common names:

  • Fluoxetine
  • Paroxetine
  • Sertraline

These are used to lessen attacks of:

  • Weakness
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep paralysis

Don't take monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors:

  • While taking SSRIs
  • For 2 weeks prior to starting SSRIs
  • For 5 weeks after stopping SSRIs

You may have problems with:

  • Anxiety
  • Mania
  • Weight loss
  • Weight gain
  • Seizures
  • Low blood sugar in people with diabetes
  • Lightheadedness, drowsiness, or blurred vision
  • Arrhythmia
  • Risk of mood and behavior changes—may involve thoughts of suicide in some people, young adults may be at a higher risk for this

Special Considerations

If you are taking medicines, follow these general guidelines:

  • Take the medicine as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Do not share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicines can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one medicine, including over-the-counter products and supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills as needed.

References:

Narcolepsy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116132/Narcolepsy . Updated November 14, 2017. Accessed September 5, 2018.
Narcolepsy. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/narcolepsy. Accessed September 5, 2018.
Narcolepsy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Narcolepsy-Fact-Sheet. Updated July 6, 2018. Accessed September 5, 2018.
Sodium oxabate. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T232884/Sodium-Oxybate . Updated July 9, 2018. Accessed September 5, 2018.
Suicidality in children and adolescents being treated with antidepressant medications. US Food & Drug Administration website. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm161679.htm. Updated February 5, 2018. Accessed September 5, 2018.
2/18/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed... : Serretti A, Mandelli L. Antidepressants and body weight: a comprehensive review and meta-analysis. J Clin Psychiatry. 2010;71(10):1259-1272.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 9/5/2018

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