Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder characterized, in its classical form, by excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) with irresistible episodes of sleep, cataplexy, disrupted nocturnal sleep, hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations and sleep paralysis. It is often under-diagnosed, however, if it is suitably diagnosed, symptoms can be well treated by means of targeted drugs, such as modafinil to treat EDS, sodium oxybate for cataplexy, as well as EDS and disrupted nocturnal sleep, and tricyclic and newer antidepressants for cataplexy. Hallucinations and sleep paralysis can be treated with the same drugs used for cataplexy. Amphetamines and amphetamine-like stimulants are used less nowadays. Behavioral measures are also important and useful. The discovery of hypocretin deficiency in narcoleptic patients opens new perspectives for the development of newer therapeutic approaches for both EDS and cataplexy. Therapy for narcolepsy is chronic, hence symptomatic. However, the correct use of available drugs enables patients to gain a better quality of life, keeping the symptoms under control, which, mainly from a social point of view, are heavily disabling. © 2009 Expert Reviews Ltd.
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