Study Finds Sleep Apnea And Depression Linked

Are you currently suffering from depression and dealing with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? If so, the cause of the former could be due to the latter. According to a study led by Dr. David R. Hillman, a clinical professor at the University of Western Australia, people with depression are actually five times more likely to suffer from sleep disorders.


At the start of the study, sleep apnea was diagnosed in 293 participants. Of that number 273, or 73 percent, were found to also experience clinically depressive symptoms. The participants of the study group, the average age of which was 52 years old, were diagnosed through health questionnaires. Moreover, researchers also observed the patients overnight using an in-lab polyspomnography to determine whether or not OSA was present. Based on the observations, researchers found that the more severe the sleep apnea, the more severe the depression symptoms also turned out to be.

How to treat Sleep Apnea

Symptoms of sleep apnea include pauses in breathing, excessive snoring, sleeping disruptions, or extreme tiredness in the daytime. OSA is treated with continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, which requires users to put on masks over their noses while they sleep. Powerful, pressurized air then flows through the machine and into the nasal airways. Even though users may find this process uncomfortable, it is currently the best way to ensure that patients’ airways continue to stay open, allowing for a continuous nights’ sleep.

Good news for people suffering from these symptoms

Interestingly enough, patients suffering from both conditions seem to benefit from the CPAP machine. In fact, major depressive symptoms, such as feelings of hopelessness or failure, were relieved in 96% of the patients after just three months of using the CPAP machine to fight sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a disorder that is extremely under diagnosed, so the results of this study can yield important information for researchers to better understand the condition. If left untreated, it can cause symptoms of depression, but is also linked to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.