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My CPAP Store – Dealing with Depression When You Have Sleep Apnea

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression can occur at any age, and it is a common problem in the United States. Unfortunately, patients dealing with depression often hide their symptoms from family members and doctors due to an outdated impression that it is a sign of mental weakness. If you are already dealing with a life-threatening issue like sleep apnea, how are you supposed to also manage your symptoms of depression?

Causes of Depression

In all honesty, many cases of depression in adults can be traced to physiological problems. For example, hypothyroidism, diabetes, and sleep apnea can cause a person to feel depressed on a regular basis. Without a proper diagnosis, the patient is often left to continue suffering the negative effects of the depression along with the disease that is causing it. Of course, other factors also play into the development of depression, particularly in teens and adults.

Depression and Sleep Apnea

Depression and sleep apnea share several symptoms, making it difficult to provide an immediate diagnosis when a patient visits a physician. In almost all cases, additional appointments are necessary to determine the root cause of the depression. If sleep apnea is suspected, the doctor will request that the patient sees a sleep specialist in order to determine whether or not the patient has obstructive or central sleep apnea.

How Does Sleep Apnea Lead to Depression?

Apneic episodes (periods when the individual ceases breathing) often occur during REM sleep, which is the deepest and most important part of the sleep session. During REM sleep, people often roll from a side position to lying on their backs, which increases the likelihood of an apneic episode. When an individual has obstructive sleep apnea, the soft tissues located within the oral cavity collapse and block off the airway, causing a stoppage in breathing.

People with untreated sleep apnea fail to get the rest they need each night due to the episodes during which they stop breathing. As a result, they wake up feeling tired, irritable, and depressed.

Scientific Studies Connecting Depression and Sleep Apnea

Some studies concluded that untreated sleep apnea might contribute to problems with depression due to an ongoing issue with interrupted sleep sessions. As the individual experiences stoppages in breathing, levels of oxygen drop. Although more studies are needed to explore this topic, it is thought that the lack of oxygen during sleep creates damage to the brain. If an injury to the brain occurs, it results in poor brain functionality.

Studies have shown that CPAP therapy can successfully reduce the symptoms of depression. While getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone, it is often impossible for people with untreated obstructive sleep apnea. However, further study is needed to determine the exact relationship between sleep apnea and depression.


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