Sleep apnea is a condition that affects about 18 million Americans. While there is treatment for it, many find the CPAP breathing machines that are regularly used uncomfortable and cumbersome. Apnea, when untreated, leaves suffers vulnerable to increased instances of stroke and high blood pressure. It can also lead to daytime sleepiness and reduced performance during the day. A new study shows that men who suffer from sleep apnea may also be at increased risked for clinical depression as well.
Sleep apnea is a condition that affects a person’s ability to sleep. The sleeping sufferer’s breathing is interrupted. This limits the amount of airflow to the brain. It also causes periods of wakefulness so that breathing can be restored.
The most common cause of sleep apnea is a condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This condition is caused by airways being blocked during sleep. Soft tissue in the nasal passages or in the throat will collapse, shutting off the ability of the lungs to get oxygen.
A recent study was conducted of men between the ages of 35 and 83. The participants were included in the study if they were evaluated for depression twice over five years. These men were then asked to participate in a sleep study and answer a questionnaire that evaluated the level of daytime sleepiness that they experienced. None of these men had been previously diagnosed with OSA or any other form of apnea.
Along with the sleep study and questionnaire, participants were also checked for other factors that are typically associated with depression. These contributing factors were outside of the sleep apnea diagnosis and are considered things that would commonly contribute to male depression.
The study showed that in many cases there was a very strong link between depression and OSA. Men who suffered from both daytime sleepiness and OSA were four to five times more likely to be depressed than men without either condition. The research did not reveal if treating the apnea would help to treat the depression as well. The study showed that adults who had snorting and breathing interruptions during sleep were three times more likely to show signs of major depression.
This survey is the most recent of several surveys that were conducted to see the mental health effects of sleep apnea. Last year a study was done and published that linked apnea to both depression and anxiety. This existed in both men and women. While sleep apnea has been linked to several dangerous health issues in the past, it seems like the list keeps growing. If you or your partner snores heavily at night or suffers from excessive drowsiness during the day, sleep apnea may be the culprit. It is vital that you get tested as soon as possible to avoid any long-term health effects.