Rhea claims Sushant took Modafinil for claustrophobia - what is it?

Sushant Singh Rajput's death had triggered widespread consternation, with many firmly believing that the actor was unlikely to have committed suicide. While the investigation had begun with the Mumbai and Bihar Police conducting their respective probes, the matter is at present under scrutiny from three bodies - the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate and the Narcotics Bureau.

Amid this, many have called our the late actor's girlfriend, Rhea Chakraborty, with Sushant's family alleging in their FIR that she had abetted his suicide, and many tweeting their criticism and suspicions. Aganist this backdrop, on Thursday, Rhea spoke out on many of the allegations against her in an interview with India Today.

One of these comments -- that Sushant was claustrophobic -- has however sparked a debate.

"On the day of our trip (to Europe) Sushant told us that he feels claustrophobic while travelling in a plane and that he takes a medicine called Modafinil," Rhea said.

"He always had that medicine with him...and before boarding the flight he took it on his own - he didn't have to get a prescription," she added.

But what exactly is Modafinil?

According to research articles available on the US' National Center for Biotechnology Information website, Modafinil is a non-amphetamine central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that promotes wakefulness. It is often prescribed to narcolepsy patients and has also been used by healthy individuals to enhance their alertness or to mitigate fatigue.

"It is used in the treatment of conditions which cause excessive daytime sleepiness," adds one report. It notes that while this is usually a "well-tolerated stimulant" it can also cause adverse effects such as headache, nausea, and decreased appetite in less than 10% of users. Few users may also experience anxiety, insomnia, dizziness, diarrhea, and rhinitis.

Can Modafinil help overcome claustrophobia?

While reports suggest that the drug can be used as a "psychostimulant for the treatment of cognitive dysfunction in some psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and and a general cognitive enhancer in normals" there is no specific mention of claustrophobia in this context.

"Modafinil should be used with caution in patients with a history of psychosis and/or mania. Such patients should be monitored for hallucinations, delusions, mania, aggression, and suicidal ideation upon starting modafinil. Discontinuation is advised if these symptoms develop," reads a paper on the NCBI website.

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