Cataplexy Levels of Severity

User Sk8aplexy has been kind enough to put together a brief summary of what new PWN can expect from cataplexy events.

Minimal Minimal – Quick flicker of a muscle or brief sensation

Minimal Moderate – Flickering of muscles, drooping or slouching and losing eye contact, the jaw drooping staying open,etc..

Minimal Severe – All of the above,  as well as causing a stutter/mumble and having to stop speaking or looking. The interference has now gotten to the point that it is annoying/intrusive.

Moderate Minimal – Flickering sensations to the point of having to double check your surroundings in case of collapse, noting the body shifting or a sensation of weakening muscles/ability to maintain what you’re doing. Feels like you are heavy or in slow-mo.

Moderate Moderate – Like above, yet, all of a sudden, the body is frozen and time slows, and the body’s sensations are going wild (tingling/flickering). You will perhaps drop anything you’re holding. At this point, it is time to prepare for collapse.

Moderate Severe – Same as above but dropping anything, slouching forwards and gradually ending up on the ground, but not quite in a paralysis state. It is almost a feeling of what it might be like to experience a seizure (the inner sensations are just going through the roof),  and at this point, though, it’s more clear a collapse is coming and that the muscles are dissipating rather than returning.

Severe Minimal – Lots of sensations, flickering, tingling, pretty much head to toe. There’s no time to left to do more than get an arm on the ground or chair to assist and avoid a straight near-instant collapsing. Collapsing to ground into a near-complete temporary paralysis, it will possibly appear as though a seizure is happening. Due to the muscles coming and going, as you try to move a limb or your head, it can result in what appears to be twitching (this is where not resisting or fighting it physically, really really helps dissipate it). Upon relaxing, the muscles return ,and you can get up (not being on ground more than 15 or 20 seconds).

Severe Moderate – Near instant collapse, the knees buckle, collapsing to ground awkwardly with an impact, not having time nor ability to guide yourself down, falling into complete temporary paralysis. Being paralyzed on the ground in whatever position the ragdoll fall puts you in, it can take 15-30 seconds for the paralysis to disappear, and the muscles to return before being able to stand up. (Everything above I’ve experienced more times than I can try to count, the following is what some do experience but I’ve yet to, and hope not to.)

Severe Severe – Same as Moderate Severe but during the complete temporary paralysis you fall into deep REM sleep, causing the paralysis to go into REM muscle atonia, being entirely non responsive and paralyzed for a longer duration of time.

Lastly, there is a other thing called ‘Status Cataplecticus’ which is very much like C, but there is no trigger involved, and it has a prolonged effect rather than one that doesn’t tend to often last more than seconds to minutes. ‘Status Cataplecticus’ is not said to be a part of Narcolepsy necessarily, but is a known withdrawal side effect from certain SSRI medications; I believe it may be possible as a symptom of N w/ C, but rare and, honestly, hypersomnia sleep disorders are very far from fully understood nor are the tests for such very consistent. They show a problem and what sort, but beyond that, a lot needs to be still learned, or perhaps organized better in regards to the actual spectrum there seems to be with such diseases.


Sk8aplexy says: Do not fight or resist it. Learn to be comfortable and familiar with it and how it effects you. Don’t fear it; grasp it as best you can. Sprawl out on the ground if possible before a collapse. While paralyzed or it’s hitting hard, relax, distract your mind by focusing on your core. Breathe and count slowly.

As a kid I remember very distinctly, that anytime I was tickled in the belly, I could laugh real loud and roll my body around, but my arms would just not lift, feeling oddly numb. At 20, I began to awkwardly have to lean against the wall when laughing with parents, only at home in total comfort, it quickly progressed into not being able to lean against anything and just basically collapsing awkwardly. For years I collapsed and collapsed, gradually it kept progressing. At 28 I went down hard after a friend defecated on himself midstreet, he’d been a bit ill (this was in Mexico) and I knew the walk was a risk. I’d not yet collapsed in front of anyone, at least in a quick intense manner. That night, I found an article on Cataplexy, after searching “laughter AND paralysis.”

Please know that C only happens in response to a trigger, always in the moment and not just out of the blue, it may seem like there was no trigger involved at times, or often for some, but C is vicious in subtlety, there’s always a trigger though underlying it.