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Can Sleep Apnea Cause Depression?

April 22, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — bettersleep @ 6:08 pm
Tired man suffering from depression and sleep problems

Discussions about sleep apnea often focus on the danger it poses to physical health, but did you know that it can also contribute to mental health disorders? One study even found that 46% of people with sleep apnea have depressive symptoms. Let’s talk about possible reasons for the correlation between depression and sleep apnea, as well as what you can do to improve the quality of your sleep and your emotional well-being.

Why the Connection?

Scientists still do not fully understand how the brain works, and there is ongoing research delving into the connection between sleep and emotional health. However, it has been well-established that sleep deprivation interferes with the brain’s ability to properly regulate and control emotions.  For example, researchers had discovered that individuals who do not get enough sleep are more likely to experience the same negative thoughts over and over again. Repetitive negative thinking may contribute to depression.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea — Misdiagnosed as Depression?

Some scientists have even gone so far as to say that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be misdiagnosed as depression. That doesn’t minimize the severity of an individual’s emotional and mental health symptoms, but it does underscore the need to consider OSA as a contributor to depression.

Dr. William V. McCall, who participated in a research study to examine the link between OSA and depression, was particularly concerned about the well-being of depressed individuals who do not respond well to traditional treatments for depression. He stated, “We know that [people] with sleep apnea talk about depression symptoms. We know that if you have [OSA], you are not going to respond well to an antidepressant… We know that there are hidden cases of sleep apnea in people who are depressed and suicidal.”

Should You Ask for a Sleep Test?

If you have been experiencing symptoms of depression, you should certainly talk to your doctor about the problem. Also, be sure to mention the quality of your sleep. Do you toss and turn a lot? Does your partner complain that you snore? Do you often wake up with a sore throat or headache? These symptoms indicate that you may need to undergo a sleep study in Eugene.

A sleep study is a noninvasive test that monitors your breathing and other vital statistics for a night. It can reveal if you have OSA and how severe the condition is. After you begin OSA treatment, it is possible that you will enjoy improved mental and emotional health.

Depression and sleep apnea are both serious health problems! If you suspect you are suffering from either one — or both — you should seek professional help as soon as possible.

Meet the Practice

Dr. Ivan Paskalev is a dentist who specializes in providing sleep apnea treatment in Eugene in the form of oral appliance therapy. Oral appliances offer a noninvasive, non-pharmaceutical way to address mild to moderate OSA. If you would like to learn more about Dr. Paskalev and how his services may benefit your physical and mental health, contact our practice at 541-246-8284.

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