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What are the common medications for narcolepsy?

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Quick Answer

Doctors typically prescribe modafinil and methylphenidate to treat the excessive daytime sleepiness symptoms of narcolepsy, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Two classes of antidepressants, tricyclics and selective serotonin and noradrenergic reuptake inhibitors, effectively control the cataplexy component of narcolepsy.

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Full Answer

Modafinil alerts the central nervous system, while methylphenidate is an amphetamine-like stimulant, states the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Common side effects of both medications include nervousness, irritability, disturbances in heart rhythm, nighttime sleep disruption and anorexia. The antidepressants generally come with fewer side effects but can cause impotence, high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythm. Sedatives such as GHB or Xyrem can also treat narcolepsy, but doctors rarely prescribe them due to safety concerns.

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