Thinking About Therapy Podcast Episode with Dr Patricia Barber

Hi everyone

Just a post to link anyone who is interested to the most recent podcast episode of Thinking About Therapy which I had the pleasure of being a guest on this week! I discussed everything from Narcolepsy symptoms to the mental health impact of living with this condition. Check out the link below if you would like to listen:

If you are interested in getting in touch with Dr Patricia Barber you can do so via her website or Instagram @drpatriciabarber.

I thought I would summarise some of the points I went over in the podcast for ease of reference:

What is Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is:

  • A Sleep disorder
  • Neurological
  • Autoimmune
  • Genetic

Causes of Narcolepsy

It is an autoimmune condition in that an immune response generated antibodies due to a threat in your body, the flu is a very common one, strep throat etc. The hypocretin neurons are destroyed which regulate your sleep and this is the reason for our poor quality sleep

A number of people in Europe got Narcolepsy from the Pandemrix Flu vaccine which generated the immune response, the brain mistook the hypocretin cell as a threat and killed it off

Narcolepsy Symptoms

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
  • Cataplexy (depending on which type you have)
  • Vivid Nightmares
  • Disrupted Night time sleep
  • Hypnagogic Hallucinations
  • Sleep Paralysis
  • Poor memory
  • Poor concentration
  • Brain Fog
  • Anxiety/Depression as a secondary symptom

Narcolepsy Treatment

Narcolepsy is treated with a range of different medications. From what I have heard from other people, it depends which type of Narcolepsy you have and also how extreme your Narcolepsy and/or Cataplexy is. Not all people with Narcolepsy have the same variant of it and you can have milder versions of it than others.

I can only speak for myself in terms of treatment. I am on a stimulant medication to keep me awake during the day called Modafinil and I have also recently started a new medication to suppress my REM sleep and therefore stop my nightmares called Venlafaxine.

For more information on Narcolepsy please check out the following websites:

Narcolepsy UK

Narcolepsy Ireland

Project Sleep

I also recommend the Narcolepsy Ireland and UK Facebook groups but bear in mind that these are for people who are either in the process of being diagnosed with Narcolepsy or who have already been diagnosed.

Another resource I mentioned with the Epsworth Sleepiness Scale which is used to measure Excessive Daytime Sleepiness levels. Whilst it is primarily used for Sleep Apnoea I still think it is a good gauge of your levels of tiredness so that you have it to discuss with your GP.


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