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Cataplexy is a strange neurologic condition, occasionally confused with epilepsy. These patients experience sudden loss of muscle tone and fall to the floor because of laughter, stress, or frightening experiences. The cataplectic patient does not lose consciousness but lies without moving for a few minutes until normal body tone returns. Cataplexy can exist by itself, or more commonly, as a feature of narcolepsy.
Cataplexy requires separate treatment from narcolepsy. The condition often can be completely controlled with imipramine or desipramine, given in gradually increasing doses.