Kleine-Levin Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes And Treatment

Sleep for hours and hours without interruption; For many people it may seem like a pleasure to be able to establish a prolonged rest period in which to replenish energy after a hard day of work.

But for others, it can be a real ordeal that greatly limits their life because they can spend most of the day sleeping, in addition to presenting serious changes in behavior and mood during the time they remain awake. We are talking about those people who suffer from the disorder known as Kleine-Levin syndrome, a disorder related to hypersomnia.

Sleeping beauty syndrome

Also known as sleeping beauty syndromeKleine Levin syndrome is a disorder of neurological origin that is characterized by the presence of episodes of profound hypersomnia, in which the individual can sleep up to twenty hours in a row.

In addition to hypersomnia, the presence of cognitive and behavioral alterations. Memory and the ability to reason and judge may also be altered, as well as physical and mental slowing and fatigue.

During the awake period, the individual with Kleine-Levin syndrome manifests uninhibited and even compulsive behavior, with hyperphagia and hypersexuality and an attitude between childish and aggressive. The subject has a labile and irritable emotionality that can trigger violent actions. Sometimes the presence of dissociative phenomena such as derealization, or perceptual alterations such as hallucinations, can also be observed.

This disorder frequently begins in adolescence.with a greater prevalence in men, which causes severe disability in the periods of time in which they present symptoms.

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Episodes can last days or weeks, and can occur numerous times throughout the year. However, in the period of time between the different episodes, the behavior and amount of sleep is normative, recovering normal mental functions and being able to lead a normal life at those times.

An unknown cause

The causes of this neurological disorder are not yet known.although there is speculation about the presence of alterations in the functioning of the hypothalamus and the entire limbic system and some others subcortical structures linked to the regulation of emotions and sleep.

Specifically, it has been observed that in many patients there is hypoperfusion in the limbic system, thalamus and frontotemporal cortex (that is, the amount of blood that reaches these regions is reduced, so they are not irrigated as much as they should be). Also electro-encephalic activity seems to slow down.

A possible genetic influence that could explain the phenomenon has been studied, but although it has been found that on some occasions there are several cases in the same family, there is no evidence to confirm it. It has also been speculated that it may be due to head trauma, infectious medical diseases, or severe stress.

Treatment of Kleine-Levin syndrome

Kleine-Levin syndrome does not have a clear etiology, so It is difficult to perform curative treatment. The treatment applied in the presence of this disorder usually focuses on the symptoms.

As with other hypersomnias, various psychotropic drugs to control symptoms. The use of stimulants can promote an increase in the activity of the subjects and reduce sleep episodes in duration and frequency, although on the other hand it can harm the presence of impulsive actions and hallucinations. Antipsychotics have also been used to manage alterations. behavioral, as well as antidepressants such as MAOIs and imapramine, euthymizers and anticonvulsants.

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Psychological intervention

On a psychological level it is necessary use psychoeducation both with the patient and with the environment due to the complications that its condition can entail at an emotional, behavioral and social level, which can damage the support and help networks available to patients affected by this disorder. Emotional problems derived from experiencing the disorder should also be treated, especially in asymptomatic periods.

The use of cognitive-behavioral techniques It is another element to take into account in this aspect, making use of cognitive restructuring or learning ways to manage the situation. The objective is to make the interpretation of the experience of symptoms as appropriate as possible.

Fortunately, in many cases despite being recurrent Kleine-Levin syndrome tends to disappear over the years.

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