Anyone who has heard of obstructive sleep apnea knows that there are a certain amount of riska associated with having it; heart attack, type two diabetes and stroke being 3 major concerns. However, a recent study has revealed that OSA is also strongly correlated with depression in men.
In May 2015, the University of Adelaide published a study in which one of their very own, Dr. Carol Lang, studied 1800 men over a five year time-frame and ended with results which showed “that those with an undiagnosed sleep disorder and one of the primary symptoms of sleep apnea, excessive daytime sleepiness, were four times more likely to have depression than those without a sleep disorder.” Additionally, men who had a diagnosed sleep disorder was still twice as likely to also have depression. Other studies have also indicated that similar results are true of women, as well.
Depression can bring about its own set of troubling risk factors. Individuals with depression have a higher risk for cancer, Parkinsons and chronic pain. And if the daytime tiredness that came along with OSA wasn’t enough, depression is also known to cause fatigue and even decrease quality of life. As the cards stack higher against those with sleep apnea and depression, there is still light at the end of the tunnel.
Treating Sleep Apnea and Depression Together
In September 2015, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, published a study in which 293 participants (both male and female this time), who had recently been diagnosed with OSA, were studied in a course of treatment for both, OSA and depression. About 73% of the participants had pre-diagnosed depression and the severity of depression seemed to strongly correlate with the severity of the apnea.
The course of action for treatment was consistent use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). After three months of treatment, only 4% of patients who had used the CPAP for at least five hours a night had medically significant symptoms for depression. Additionally, at the beginning of the study, 41 patients had admitted to having self-harming or suicidal thoughts. After the three months of treatment, there were zero who reported those feelings continuing.
It is hard to tell what exactly is the culprit for the correlation between depression and apnea, however, it seems to be more than just a coincidence. Whether CPAP actually treats depression in some way, or if depression is misdiagnosis for sleep apnea, is still unclear. However, if you have been diagnosed with both, CPAP treatment could be the breakthrough you’ve been waiting for. Dr. Dan Matthews can consult with you and/or you psychiatrist to see if CPAP treatment could be beneficial to you. Life is too short to be tired all of the time and to run such great risks. Sleep Apnea and depression can be both very hazardous. Don’t postpone treatment.