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Narcolepsy in Adolescents: A Review and Three Case Reports

[ Vol. 5 , Issue. 4 ]


Swarnalata Debbarma and Karim Sedky   Pages 264 - 272 ( 9 )


Background: Narcolepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, hypnagogic and/or hypnopompic hallucinations, and sleep paralysis. Due to symptom overlap and comorbidity between narcolepsy and other psychiatric disorders, narcolepsy in children and adolescents can be easily misdiagnosed. Diagnostic delay is common.

Method: We review the clinical presentations, epidemiology, etiology, diagnostic criteria, and treatment of this disabling disorder. We also present three examples of cases initially diagnosed as either a medical or psychiatric disorder, leading to a delay in management ranging from seven months to seven years.

Discussion: These cases highlight the importance for psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who work with adolescents to become familiar with this uncommon disorder to shorten time to treatment of this patient population.


Narcolepsy, narcolepsy misdiagnosis, narcolepsy with cataplexy, narcolepsy without cataplexy.


401 Haddon Field Ave, Department of Psychiatry, Suite 346, Camden, NJ 08103.

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