The key difference between cataplexy and catalepsy is that cataplexy occurs when the individual is awake and conscious, while catalepsy occurs during a state of unconsciousness and unawareness.
Loss of muscle rigidity and muscle paralysis could occur due to different reasons. These reasons could be either medical or spontaneous. Cataplexy and catalepsy are two conditions that cause muscle weakness and loss of muscle rigidity.
What is Cataplexy?
Cataplexy is a condition of sudden muscle weakness triggered by strong emotions such as laughing and excitement. This condition occurs when the individual is awake. Cataplexy usually takes place due to positive experiences. But negative emotions such as anger, stress, fear, and physical exertion could also cause cataplexy, but rarely. The severity of cataplexy could vary along with the symptoms and episodes. During minor and less severe episodes, the individual with cataplexy shows momentary sensation of weakness in a few muscle tissues. But during severe conditions, cataplexy results in extreme muscle rigidity, causing the individual to collapse and making him/her unable to move.
The cause for the occurrence of cataplexy in individuals is still being investigated with different research-based approaches. The most common reason for the occurrence of cataplexy is the loss of brain cells that produce the hormone orexin or hypocretin. This hormone plays an important role in the sleep-wake cycle. Diagnosis of cataplexy is hard since there are no evident and specific symptoms associated with the disease. The usual diagnosis is through an interview with the individual, where the physician will look for classic signs of cataplexy. Treatment for cataplexy helps to decrease the number of episodes. Since the loss of the hypocretin hormone is irreversible, there is no cure found yet for cataplexy.
What is Catalepsy?
Catalepsy is a nervous condition characterized by seizure or trance along with loss of sensation and muscular rigidity. The occurrence of seizure along with catalepsy makes the individual unconscious and unaware of the situation. Hence, this could result in severe outcomes such as inability to breathe or accidents that could lead to death. During a cataleptic episode, the individual will lose the ability of speech and sensitivity to pain and touch. The symptoms of catalepsy include an extremely rigid body, unmovable limbs, decreased sensitivity to pain, decreased muscle control, seizure, and complete loss of muscle control.
The main cause of catalepsy is abnormal neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy. Withdrawal of drugs such as cocaine could cause catalepsy. Catalepsy is also triggered by side effects of antipsychotic medications related to schizophrenia. Treatment for catalepsy can vary. Treatment methods focus on ameliorating underlying neurological issues and the causes of the disease. Muscle relaxants are one type of treatment option that cause relaxation of muscles and reduce the tendency of occurrence of catalepsy. Catalepsy due to post-withdrawal of drugs goes off after a few days or weeks.
What are the Similarities Between Cataplexy and Catalepsy?
- Both cataplexy and catalepsy are conditions associated with muscular tissue and the nervous system.
- Muscle rigidity can happen due to both conditions.
- Both reduce the sensitivity to touch and pain.
- No proper cure is available for both types of disorders.
- Both cataplexy and catalepsy are controllable with medication.
What is the Difference Between Cataplexy and Catalepsy?
The key difference between cataplexy and catalepsy is the level of consciousness the individual is experiencing. Cataplexy occurs while the individual is conscious and awake. But during catalepsy, the individual is unconscious and unaware. Cataplexy causes less severe symptoms, while catalepsy causes life-threatening symptoms.
The below infographic presents the differences between cataplexy and catalepsy in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Cataplexy vs Catalepsy
Disorders related to muscle movement and control are caused mainly by neurological conditions. Cataplexy and catalepsy are two types of disorders that cause muscle rigidity and loss of sensation over pain and touch. Cataplexy is a condition of sudden muscle weakness triggered by strong emotions such as laughing and excitement. Catalepsy is a nervous condition characterized by seizure or trance along with loss of sensation and muscular rigidity. During cataplexy, the individual is conscious and awake. But during catalepsy, the individual is unconscious. Both conditions could be treated to minimize the effects. Cataplexy is often treated with antidepressants, while catalepsy is treated with muscle relaxants. This summarizes the difference between cataplexy and catalepsy.
1. “Catalepsy.” GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog.