Sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes blocked during sleep, restricting an intake of sufficient oxygen. Recent research now suggests that people with sleep apnea also have increased risk of depression.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) found that women with sleep apnea are five times more likely to develop clinical depression and men with sleep apnea are twice as likely. While over 80% who listed classic symptoms of sleep apnea had never been ‘officially’ diagnosed, the participants in their study averaged a threefold higher risk of depression compared to adults who have no breathing troubles during sleep.
Sleep disruption can be a risk factor for developing depression, and a lot of symptoms of those who have sleep apnea display similar symptoms to people who have depression. Although the effects of depression and sleep apnea can be difficult to distinguish, it is felt that there is a connection between the two.
Sleep interruptions that characterize the disorder have been shown in previous research to affect mood. The periodic declines in oxygen during sleep can lead to brain changes by triggering stress or inflammation. Although this study shows an association, rather than cause-&-effect, the researchers feel it’s plausible that sleep apnea could directly cause depression. The findings clearly indicate that the brain requires a pattern of steady sleep.
If you, or someone you know, display symptoms of sleep apnea, please contact us. For mild to moderate sleep apnea, a simple oral appliance worn at night may be all that’s needed for peaceful sleep.