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Sleep Med. 2013 Jun;14(6):488-92. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2013.03.002. Epub 2013 May 3.

Narcolepsy is complicated by high medical and psychiatric comorbidities: a comparison with the general population.

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Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA, USA.



Individuals affected with narcolepsy represent a vulnerable segment of the population. However, we only have a partial understanding of this vulnerability. Our study aims to examine psychiatric disorders and medical conditions associated with narcolepsy.


A total of 320 narcoleptic participants were interviewed regarding sleeping habits, health, medication consumption, medical conditions (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th edition), sleep disorders (International Classification of Sleep Disorders, second edition [ICSD-2]) and mental disorders (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition, text revision [DSM-IV-TR]) using Sleep-EVAL. A general population comparison sample (N=1464) matched for age, sex, and body mass index (BMI) and interviewed with the same instrument was used to estimate odds ratios (OR).


Five diseases were more frequently observed among narcoleptic participants, including hypercholesterolemia (OR, 1.51), diseases of the digestive system (OR, 3.27), heart diseases (OR, 2.07), upper respiratory tract diseases (OR, 2.52), and hypertension (OR, 1.32). Most frequent psychiatric disorders among the narcolepsy group were major depressive disorder (MDD) (OR, 2.67) and social anxiety disorder (OR, 2.43), both affecting nearly 20% of narcoleptic individuals. However, most mood and anxiety disorders were more prevalent among the narcoleptic group. Alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence was comparable between groups.


Narcolepsy is associated with a high comorbidity of both medical conditions and psychiatric disorders that need to be addressed when developing a treatment plan.

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