Typical cataplexy is a sudden loss of muscle strength that happens equally on both sides of your body. It’s usually triggered by strong emotions, such as laughing, crying, or terror. It usually affects the face (sagging jaw), neck (head drop), or legs (buckling knees). Typical cataplexy episodes last less than 2 minutes (usually less than 30 seconds). People with this symptom are fully conscious and aware, even if they don’t look like it.

Typical cataplexy is one of the main defining symptoms of narcolepsy type 1 (NT1), but atypical cataplexy is much less strongly associated with NT1. Atypical cataplexy is different in several ways, such as that it may last longer and happen on only one side of your body. To learn more, visit “How is typical cataplexy diagnosed in adults?” on our diagnosis web page for doctors.

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