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Medications for Narcolepsy
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, talk to your doctor.
Common names include:
Stimulants can help you be more alert and awake. While using stimulant medicines, you should take the following precautions:
You may experience the following side effects:
Note: You may notice these things when you first begin taking a stimulant medication. Until you know how the medicine will affect you, you should avoid driving, operating machinery, and doing hazardous activities.
Common names include:
You may be given a tricyclic antidepressant if you have symptoms, such as attacks of weakness, hallucinations as sleep begins, or sleep paralysis. To avoid stomach upset, take your tricyclic antidepressants with food, unless your doctor has told you otherwise.
Possible side effects include:
Sodium oxybate is used to treat cataplexy. It is a drug that can be abused, so it is a controlled substance. Abuse can cause serious problems, such as trouble breathing, seizures, loss of consciousness, coma, and death. Abuse can also lead to dependence, craving, and withdrawal symptoms. If you are prescribed sodium oxybate, you will have to get the medicine from one central pharmacy. It is not available anywhere else.
Sodium oxybate can reduce the number of cataplexy attacks. But, it must be taken exactly as prescribed. The medicine works very fast, so you need to take it only when you are ready to fall asleep. Sodium oxybate must be taken in two doses each night. The first dose is taken right at bedtime and the second dose is taken 2-1/2 to 4 hours later. You will probably need to wake yourself up to take the second dose. The most common side effects are nausea, lightheadedness, headache, sleep problems, confusion, vomiting, and bed-wetting.
Do not engage in activities that require alertness, such as driving, for six hours after taking the medicine. Do not use alcohol or other sedatives while taking this medicine. Your doctor must instruct you in the safe and effective use of this medicine.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
Common names include:
You may be given an SSRI to treat weakness, hallucinations as sleep begins, or sleep paralysis. If this medicine upsets your stomach, you can take it with food.
Do not take MAO inhibitors:
Serious side effects of SSRI antidepressants include:
Note: You may notice these symptoms when you first begin taking a medication. Until you know how the medication will affect you, you should avoid driving, operating machinery, and doing hazardous activities.
If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:
Antidepressant use in children, adolescents, and adults. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov... . Updated August 12, 2010. Accessed June 3, 2013.
Narcolepsy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated March 6, 2013. Accessed June 3, 2013.
What is narcolepsy? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/ . Updated November 1, 2010. Accessed June 3, 2013.
Xyrem (sodium oxybate) information. Center for Drug Evaluation and Research website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov... . Updated December 27, 2012. Accessed June 3, 2013.
2/18/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php : Serretti A, Mandelli L. Antidepressants and body weight: a comprehensive review and meta-analysis. J Clin Psychiatry. 2010;71(10):1259-1272.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Rimas Lukas, MD; Michael Woods, MD
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