Depression and Sleep Apnea are shown to be closely connected

It’s been widely reported throughout all the International Press this week that men who snore not only disturb their partner and ruin her well-earned vital rest, but might also end up depressing themselves in the process.

Sleep problems are a well-known symptom of depression, but a new study also raises the possibility that they could be the cause of depression as well.

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Men who have obstructive sleep apnoea have a higher risk of depression, a study has revealed. Even though the cause-and-effect relationship between the two has still not been totally proved, researchers believe that there is a strong connection between sleep apnoea and depression in men.

Researchers examined a sample of nearly 2,000 Australian men between the ages of 35 and 83 and found that those with excessive daytime sleepiness were 10 per cent more likely to be depressed compared to those without.  According to the researchers from the University of Adelaide and the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, the relationship held up even after taking other risk factors into account.

Of the men examined for the study, none of them had been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea when they began, but 857 of them were assessed for the condition after joining.  Those who were found to have it were twice as likely to be depressed than those who didn’t have the sleep disorder.

Some of the men had very severe sleep apnoea and excessive daytime sleepiness.  Researchers found that the men in this group were 4.2 times more likely to be depressed compared with men who had no sleep issues whatsoever.  Those who suffered from both conditions were also 3.5 times more likely to be depressed than men with only one of them.

The men were evaluated on two separate occasions for depression.  The first time was at the beginning of the study and the second test followed about five years after the first.  That allowed for the researchers to see if the sleep problems could be linked to any recent diagnosis of depression.

The men who had severe sleep apnoea that was found during the study were 2.9 times more likely to become depressed during those five years.

While the link between sleep and depression is still hazy at best, the results definitely provide actionable information for doctors, the study authors concluded.  After patients are diagnosed with depression, they should also be screened for sleep apnoea, even if they don’t seem sleepy, the researchers said.  While it is not yet exactly clear how sleep is linked to depression, it is obvious that those who are depressed often have sleep problems that also need to be addressed by physicians as a part of treatment for patients with depression.

Treating sleep apnoea is vital for good health but is often ignored by the sufferer and therefore remains undiagnosed until far too late. Sleep apnoea can be a dangerous, even fatal, condition because it significantly affects heart function (arrhythmia, stroke, and heart attack) as well as being closely linked with Diabetes Type 2, early onset of Alzheimer’s and hypertension.

A specially fitted oral appliance can solve these problems for the mild to moderate sufferer – so don’t delay if you know that you snore heavily and gasp for breath when sleeping. This problem can be controlled with ease if you use a specially fitted oral appliance like SleepPro Custom, but those sufferers with chronic conditions should urgently seek specialist medical advice and they may need CPAP treatment.

It’s a problem that affects women as well as men – but is twice as prevalent in the latter. This serious sleep disorder can affect anyone but age, obesity and body mass increase the risk. As men are generally larger and heavier than women, their weight can cause the airway to collapse more easily, obstructing the air passage, and cutting off vital oxygen to the brain.

You can solve it by getting an oral appliance, and by doing this you could save your life as well as your marriage.

John Redfern

The results of the above study were presented at the American Thoracic Society’s 2015 International Conference in Denver, CO this week.