The link between sleep apnea and depression is not a new one as several previous studies have indicated that sleep apnea is likely to increase a person’s chances of experiencing depression, especially if left untreated. “The discoveries highlight the potential for rest apnea, a famously underdiagnosed condition, to be misdiagnosed as sorrow”.
During the study, 426 participants, including 243 men and 183 men, an average of 52 years old, were recruited.
Using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), consenting participants were assessed for symptoms of depression. Among adolescents who reported symptoms of depression, 73 percent said that they weren’t getting enough sleep at night.
Study authors recommend primary care doctors to screen their patients with depressive symptoms for sleep apnea first, rather than refer them to a psychiatrist or prescribe them antidepressants. Unfortunately, many of sleep apnea patients aren’t even aware that they may have a health condition.
Over the course of study, 293 participants have sleep apnea and they receive CPAP treatment. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include pauses in breathing, disrupted sleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness. What’s encouraging is that these symptoms are alleviated substantially when continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP therapy) was used to treat the sleep disorder. Researchers also states that, unfortunately obstructive sleeping condition in patient has always been clinically mistreated as depression.
According to David Hillman and his research them, the results calls for the importance of better diagnoses for people with obstructive sleep apnea, which can be easily mistaken with clinical depression. Along with regular questioning about symptoms, including level of tiredness and snoring, they should be further queried about symptoms of depression.
Medical experts at the University of Western Australia have many reasons to believe there is a strong connection between sleep apnea and depression.
The researchers also found that these symptoms improve significantly when sleep apnea is treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. The 41 patients who adhered to the therapy and reported feelings of self-harm before the start of treatment did not anymore have suicidal thoughts after completing the three-month treatment period. Powerful, pressurized air then flows through the machine and into the nasal airways.
The study helps illustrate just how closely intertwined sleep apnea and depression are.