Difference Between Cataplexy and Catalepsy

When there is life, there is illness. An infinite number of diseases have been diagnosed and are curable as well. Still, with time humanity is experiencing more and more of it. Among many diseases related to different parts of the body, the illness of muscles is also found in humans. Cataplexy and Catalepsy fall in the category of muscle weakness.


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Cataplexy vs Catalepsy

The difference between Cataplexy and Catalepsy is that Cataplexy happens in a conscious state on the other hand Catalepsy occurs when the person is unconscious or unaware.

 Cataplexy is a medical condition in which suddenly the muscles become weak due to strong emotions like excitement, laughing, crying, or terror. It is medically proven that 70% of the people who have narcolepsy, also go through Cataplexy. The muscles that it affects range from barely visible loosening of facial muscles to complete paralysis of the muscles along with postural collapse.  

Catalepsy is a condition of the nervous system in which the muscles become rigid, the postures are fixed, also the sensitivity of pain is decreased. The symptoms of Catalepsy include a rigid body and limbs, the limbs staying in the same position despite the movement, loss of muscle control, no response, and slowing down of the functions of the body for example breathing.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCataplexyCatalepsy
Muscle conditionThe muscles suddenly become weakThe muscles suddenly become rigid
Causes of occurrenceCataplexy can be caused by strong emotions or genetic disordersCatalepsy can be caused by diseases like epilepsy or Parkinson’s and certain medicines
TreatmentAntidepressants and CNS depressantsMuscle relaxants and anti-psychotic medicines
ComorbiditiesCommonly associated with narcolepsyCommonly associated with Parkinson’s disease
PrerequisiteCataplexy can occur in a completely healthy personCatalepsy typically occurs as the manifestation of psychiatric or neurological illness

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What is Cataplexy?

Cataplexy is a medical condition in which the muscles of the affected person suddenly become weak. It can harm as less as just the loosening of the facial muscles and can harm as much as paralysis of the whole body’s muscles.

Despite the severity, the duration of the attacks is brief, lasting for a few seconds to a couple of minutes. The symptoms typically involve dropping of the jaw, neck weakness, and bending of knees.

It is observed that there is no major injury reported to the victims, the reason being the slow and progressive fall. The attack can be felt and noticed thus avoiding any harm. However, during the attack there can be vision impairment like double vision or inability to focus, also the speech can be indistinct, but the hearing ability and awareness continue to be routine.

Cataplexy attacks do not need any medicines in most cases. If the person is in a resting position they can transition into sleepiness, but cataplexy can get worse with fatigue.

The diagnosis of cataplexy typically depends upon the symptom presentation. During the treatment of cataplexy three symptoms must be considered which include: adrenergic, cholinergic, and dopaminergic. There are no behavioral treatments for cataplexy.

What is Catalepsy?

Catalepsy is a condition in the nervous system which causes muscle rigidity and posture fixity. It causes decreased sensitivity to pain or external stimuli. Loss of muscle control and reduced activity of functions of the body like breathing is also reported in catalepsy.

It is observed that people with nervous disorders like Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy tend to have catalepsy as well. In case of withdrawal from cocaine can also be a symptom, while catatonia can also be a reason behind it.

Some other causes include the treatment of schizophrenia through anti-psychotics, and by anesthetic ketamine. It is very important to understand the cause of the condition so that necessary treatments can be followed.

In case of catalepsy along with seizure, the patient can fall to unconsciousness, resulting in self-harm or injury. This can also be fatal due to the inability to breathe. The ability to speak and pain sensitivity is also affected.

The treatment of catalepsy focuses on the neurological issues that are strung to the condition. Muscle relaxants can also be used to relax the rigid body and reduce the frequency of the episodes. Despite all the treatments, there isn’t any proper cure for the disease.

Main Differences Between Cataplexy and Catalepsy

  1. In the case of cataplexy the individual is conscious and aware of the situation while in catalepsy the individual is unconscious and unaware of the surroundings.
  2. Due to consciousness no harm is observed in cataplexy conditions while in catalepsy the person can face accidents even fatal ones.
  3. In cataplexy the muscles become weak and lose control while in catalepsy the muscles become rigid and stiff.
  4. Cataplexy can happen to a completely healthy person while catalepsy occurs in neurologically disordered people.
  5. The duration of cataplexy is shorter as compared to catalepsy.
  1. https://europepmc.org/article/med/12436662
  2. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/archneurpsyc/article-abstract/650229
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