Sleep Apnea - Links To Depression

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Feeling sad every now and then is a fundamental part of the human experience, especially during difficult or trying times.  In contrast, persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness and disinterest in things that were once enjoyed are symptoms of depression.  This illness affects many Americans, many of whom have sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you experience pausing in your breathing while you sleep. The most common form of sleep apnea is Obstructed Sleep Apnea (OSA), where there’s an obstruction in the upper airway.

Recent medical findings show sleep apnea linked to clinical depression.  These findings also conclude that depressed individuals may find relief through treatment of the sleep disorder.  Anne G. Wheaton, an epidemiologist with CDC (Center for Disease Control) has stated, "snorting, gasping or stopping one’s breathing while asleep, all signs of OSA was associated with nearly all depression symptoms, including feeling hopeless and feeling like a failure."  This information prompted her to conduct a study to find the correlation between depression and sleep apnea.
Wheaton's approach was two-fold.  First, her team asked many adults how frequently they snorted, gasped, or had pauses in their breathing while they were asleep.  Then, the team assessed the adults’ emotional health with a standard test for depression.  Six percent of the men and three percent of the women had already been diagnosed with sleep apnea by their doctors.  Over a third of the men and about a fifth of the women reported snoring more than five times a week.  The researchers found that the men with sleep apnea were more than twice as likely to report symptoms of depression, while women with sleep apnea were five times as likely to show signs of depression.
Among older adults, higher rates of depression and sleep problems may be explained in part by higher rates of physical illness.  Among women, motherhood and hormonal changes throughout the life cycle (menstruation, menopause) may contribute to higher rates of depression.  Higher rates of depression may also be explained by higher rates of sleep disorders within these groups.
Wheaton’s study concluded that men and women who reported stoppage of breath during sleep more than five times a week had triple the risk of being depressed.  This new information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found a connection between obstructive sleep apnea and depression.  The symptom of depression can now be added to a long line of health hazards associated with OSA.

Daily studies are reporting more and more indicators of both psychological and physical health issues linked with obstructed sleep apnea.  If you or a loved one experience snorting or stopping breathing during sleep, please seek medical help immediately.  Take a quick and easy free evaluation available at our office or online at to see if you could be a candidate for sleep apnea.