The coexistence of sleep apnea and depression
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Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes periodic pauses in breathing while sleeping. There is some evidence that sleep apnea is associated with mental health issues such as sadness and anxiety. Sleep apnea, if left untreated, may result in major medical consequences such as heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and sudden death.
Sleep apnea is a rather prevalent medical problem. According to current estimates, around 22 million individuals in the United States suffer from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most prevalent kind, in which the airway becomes obstructed during sleep.
Sleep apnea and Depression
Sleep apnea may be linked to depression, particularly severe depressive disorder, according to researchers (MDD). Even yet, it isn’t obvious precisely how or why this relationship occurs.
What is the link between the two?
People with sleep difficulties and mental health issues have a strong connection to one another. Insomniacs are more likely to suffer from sadness and anxiety. While 75% of individuals with depression have difficulty falling and staying asleep, this is a common problem. However, it’s not apparent whether OSA leads to depression or depression leads to OSA, at this time.
Many sleep problems and mental health issues are linked in some way, and the association between sleep apnea and depression is most likely to be bidirectional. As a result, each of these disorders exacerbates the other.
When you’re depressed, despondent, or worried, it might be difficult to fall asleep and wake up refreshed. Depression and anxiety may be exacerbated by poor sleep quality and sleep loss.
If you have depression or anxiety, you may have a hard time following therapy and dealing with the stress of ordinary life.
They may turn to psychoactive substances like alcohol or drugs in an attempt to deal with the trauma. However, this might lead to worsening of their mental health problems and the symptoms of any co-occurring conditions.
It is very uncommon for people who suffer from depression to suffer from sleep apnea, which has many of the same symptoms. Both circumstances might make it difficult to go about one’s everyday activities. As a result, it might be difficult to identify the underlying cause of a patient’s symptoms.
Other indications and symptoms of sleep apnea include the following:
- Loud, frequent snoring
- Gasping or choking for air during sleep
- Not feeling rested even after a full night of sleep
- Headaches or dry mouth upon waking
Additional signs and symptoms of MDD include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, worthless, hopelessness, or guilt
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Loss of interest in usual relationships, hobbies, and activities
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Effect of Sleep Apnea on Mental Health
Sleep apnea has been linked to an increased risk of depression and other mental health issues. Some recent discoveries on the relationship between sleep apnea and depression:
- Many persons with OSA suffer from symptoms of despair and anxiety, according to a 2014 research in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences (JRMS). More severe OSA patients were more likely to have mental health issues.
- A 2017 research identified a link between depressive symptoms and undetected severe sleep apnea. People with depression should have their OSA checked, and vice versa. Screening for these disorders should be done in those who are always tired throughout the day.
- Despite the fact that other variables including gender, age, and other medical conditions were taken into consideration, research published in Scientific Reports in 2021 revealed that sleep apnea was still an independent risk factor for MDD.
Obesity and being overweight are also known risk factors for sleep apnea, and both of these conditions may lead to similar health problems if untreated. These are some examples:
- Heart disease
- Heart failure (the heart does not pump enough blood for the body’s needs)
- Stroke (a blockage of blood flow or bleeding in the brain)
- Diabetes (the body does not control blood sugar levels)
- High blood pressure
- Sexual dysfunction
- Certain cancers
- Cognitive decline and dementia (memory loss and impairment in thinking functions)
Depression and sleep apnea have complicated interactions.
Sleep apnea may damage your ability to fall asleep and your overall sleep quality, increasing your risk of developing depression and other long-term sleep deprivation-related health issues.
Sleep apnea’s impact on blood oxygen saturation during sleep may potentially have a role in the development of depressive symptoms, according to some studies.
Because sadness may affect your ability to maintain a healthy weight and be physically active, it can raise your risk for OSA.
Advantages of CPAP
The sleep study is often used to detect sleep apnea (overnight polysomnogram). In a sleep study, your eye and leg movements, heart rate, breathing rate, and oxygen levels are all recorded by a sleep expert while you are asleep. OSA severity may be determined by this method.
Positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is the first-choice treatment for sleep apnea. PAP treatment, which uses pressured air to keep your airways open and prevent apnea episodes, entails sleeping with a mask covering your nose or your nose and mouth. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are the most prevalent form of PAP equipment.
Regular use of a CPAP machine reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease in patients with sleep apnea. A CPAP machine may be able to assist you in better managing your OSA and MDD symptoms if you have both. You may benefit from a CPAP machine in the following ways:
- Improving sleep quality
- Reducing daytime fatigue
- Reducing stress
- Boosting mood
- Restoring memory and concentration
- Improving emotional stability
In addition to CPAP therapy, your physician may suggest one or more of the following as an adjunct to CPAP therapy for OSA patients:
- Weight loss
- Positional therapy or sleeping on your side
- Oral appliances constructed by a dentist
- Surgery, in extreme cases
Treatment for Depression-Linked Sleep Apnea
It’s critical to get therapy for both MDD and OSA if you have any of these illnesses. You can treat your depression-linked sleep apnea with lifestyle modifications, counseling, and medication.
Sleep apnea and depression both have symptoms that may be alleviated by prioritizing sleep and general wellness. To properly treat both illnesses, here are some lifestyle modifications you may make:
- Healthy weight loss through diet and exercise, especially because obesity is a risk factor for both conditions
- Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and breathing exercises
- Good sleep habits, such as establishing a consistent bedtime routine and turning off all devices an hour before going to sleep
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting intake of alcohol and other drugs
- Not taking sedatives or tranquilizers unless prescribed
Medication and Therapy
Antidepressants may be prescribed by your doctor to assist enhance your mood and alleviating your depression symptoms. Before using any prescription medication, tell your doctor if you have OSA or any other co-occurring illnesses. Cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) may also help alleviate depressive symptoms.
Apnea is an extremely prevalent medical disease that interrupts sleep by causing breathing to stop for a short period of time at time. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most frequent kind (OSA).
OSA is often accompanied by signs of depression in its sufferers. Sleep apnea and depression have a strong correlation, but it’s not clear whether one causes the other. Many scientists feel that the two illnesses are intertwined.
Both OSA and depression need to be treated if you have them. Positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is the first line of treatment for sleep apnea.
Prescription drugs, talk therapy, or a combination of the two may be used to treat depression. Both problems may be improved by making lifestyle adjustments, such as exercising regularly and adhering to a regular nighttime schedule.