Are you one of the millions of people suffering from depression? Your symptoms may be related to a common sleep disorder and fairly easy to treat according to new research. Sleep apnea may be commonly misdiagnosed as depression.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, showed that people with depression had noticeable improvements when treated for sleep apnea with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). These startling results could change the way doctors diagnose and treat depression and sleep apnea.
A New Look at Sleep Health
The 426 participants were referred to a sleep center for sleep apnea evaluations. Of those, 293 participants in the study were diagnosed with sleep apnea. Research found the severity of the patient’s sleep apnea was directly related to the severity of depression. Seventy three percent of those with sleep apnea had symptoms of depressions and, the worse the apnea, the higher the likelihood of depressive symptoms
Each of the sleep apnea patients was offered 5 hours of CPAP therapy a night for three months. Their use of the therapy was recorded over that period and a correlation was observed.
“Effective treatment of obstructive sleep apnea resulted in substantial improvement in depressive symptoms, including suicidal ideation,” says clinical professor Dr. David R. Hillman of University of Western Australia,
Depression and Sleep Apnea
What does this mean for the future? If a significant portion of the population with depression are actually experiencing the side effects of sleep apnea, we may be able to improve many of their symptoms or even cure them.
Sleep apnea symptoms can be alleviated with something as simple as an adjustable bed, a breathing machine, or lifestyle changes such as weight loss. Your physician or sleep specialist can assess your situation and identify the right treatment plan.
Indeed, doctors may begin to consider factors like sleep apnea more often when depressive symptoms are present, as research continues to show strong links between sleep quality and mental health.