Can Sleep Apnea and Depression Be Linked

April 26, 2017 |  by  |  About Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can sometimes cause the symptoms of clinical depression which may become better once you start treating your sleep apnea. Once you understand the emotional and intellectual impact sleep apnea can have then you can correct both issues. Usually when someone goes in to get help with their depression most doctors don’t realize there can be a link to sleep apnea. If there is any possible link between the depression and sleep apnea then the doctor should have them tested for sleep apnea.


Sleep apnea is an illness that is caused by complications during sleep. Most patients with sleep apnea are known to snore, have partial or complete loss of breathing while sleeping. They also have reduced blood oxygen levels and are constantly woken up while asleep. They have sleep apnea depression, lack of energy during the day.

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleeping disorders and probably had the most medical and social impact because of the mortality rate. Sleep apnea is not just for one sex, race, age, income level. It can affect every group equally even though studies show that it is less common in women pre-menopause and it’s more common in black people than white people.

Other issues related to sleep apnea besides depression includes hypertension, heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, sexual dysfunction, and injury due to accidents. There have been higher deaths related to sleep apnea now then there have ever been because there are a lot of cases that go undetected.

In order to get diagnosed with sleep apnea there are usually test that a doctor or a sleep technician does. When doing the test you are usually in a sleep lab hooked up to a machine that is called a polysomnogram. The test will measure several body functions including air flow, breathing patterns, blood oxygen levels, brain activity, heart rate, muscle activity and eye movements like REM. When the study is completed the sleep technician will look at the number of times your sleeping was impaired and gage the level of your sleep apnea. Sometimes there needs to be other test performed during the day where you try to fall asleep when you would normally be awake.

When diagnosed with sleep apnea and depression there are multiple ways to help both. Most who suffer from both can be treated for sleep apnea and that can eventually help with the depression that it causes. Some of the treatments for sleep apnea can range from change in behavior to facial surgery. The treatment is aimed at opening the airway and to restore normal breathing during sleep and help alleviate the symptoms that it can cause. When doing the treatment it can help lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of stroke, diabetes and heart failure.

In mild cases of sleep apnea and depression if the person is overweight they can benefit from losing weight, not much just ten percent will help. They can also change their sleeping pattern by sleeping on their sides instead of their backs. If sinus problems are something that you have issues with then you can try nasal sprays to help reduce snoring and improve your airflow while you sleep.

In more moderate to severe cases doctors choose to do continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This is the preferred treatment for most cases of OSA. CPAP is where patients wear a mask over their nose or mouth and a machine will force air through the nose or mouth. This helps prevent the tissues from collapsing while they sleep. This keeps the pressure constant and continuous so your body is able to receive the right amount of oxygen while you sleep. Another treatment for mild sleep apnea is dental devices that help prevent the tongue from blocking the throat. Or there is something that will help make the lower jaw move forward. This helps keep the airway open while they sleep.

In more extreme cases of sleep apnea surgery would be the choice. This is only done in extreme cases because of the risk that may occur while in surgery. This is done for people who have excessive or disfigured tissue that is obstructing the airflow either through the nose or throat. The most common of this is the deviated septum. The deviated septum is when the nose is not allowing airflow in normally while someone sleeps. Other reasons for surgery would be for enlarged tonsils, because they close the throat and make it hard to air to get into the lungs. They can also do surgery on the lower jaw or a larger tongue that cause the throat to be more narrow than it should be. As always if you have questions about sleep apnea or depression you should talk to your doctor to find out what the best course of action should be.

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