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Is There a Link to Depression and Sleep Apnea?

Updated on August 22, 2019
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Miel is a licensed teacher, a "Jane-of-all-trades" master of none, with a passion for writing.

Sleep Apnea

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash
Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash | Source

The link to depression and obstructive sleep apnea

New studies illustrate a link to depression and sleep apnea. The research buttons down to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as a likely guilty party for depression treatment failure. The study thus recommends that screening for this sleep condition and treating it may relieve depression symptoms.

According to the chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, Dr. William V. McCall, no one is focusing on screening for OSA as the possible cause for the treatment-resistant depression. Dr. McCall is the first and corresponding author of the study. He added that apnea linked to depression occurs in about 50 percent of people with major depressive disorder.

There is about 20 to 30 percent of people suffering from depression, and other mood disorders don’t get the required help they need from their existing remedial treatments. And that depression is the prominent cause of disability across the globe. That’s why it’s cardinal to come up with the most effective therapies.

Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash
Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash | Source

The corresponding author of the study hopes that the team’s new study will provide a solution to this problem. The new paper appears in The Journal of Psychiatric Research.

The predominance of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in people suffering from a major depressive disorder

Dr. William V. McCall and the team recruited 125 people with major depressive disorder and suicidal tendencies in a random clinical trial. The original purpose of examining the rate of undiagnosed OSA is if treating their insomnia would also set right their depression symptoms. Their initial test did not include people at risk of OSA like those who are already taking sleeping pills, or people with restless legs syndrome or obesity.

The scientists tested the 125 participants with a sleep study and discovered that 17 out of 125 (14 percent) of those with depression had OSA. In Dr. McCall and his colleagues’ notes, the people who had OSA did not have the familiar indicators of its intensity like daytime sleepiness. More so, the record reveals that 6 of the 17 people were non-obese women. It’s an opposition with the demographics of overweight men who are usually at risk of OSA.

Furthermore, Dr. McCall stated that their team was “caught by surprise that people did not fit the picture of what [OSA] is supposed to look like.” What’s more surprising is that 52 of the 125 participants had treatment-resistant depression; 8 of these participants also had OSA.

Photo by Claudia on Unsplash
Photo by Claudia on Unsplash | Source

The researchers identify that underlying conditions like carotid artery disease, cancer, or hypothyroidism, may often be the reason for treatment-resistant depression. And a lot of patients with depression go through an array of invasive and costly tests. The tests are attempts to examine the cause of depression treatment failure.

Are there future treatment options?

Dr. McCall and the team recommend for sleep tests first before attempting the series of invasive and costly tests like MRI scan and spinal tap. In the team’s experience, they discovered that people suffering from sleep apnea also acknowledge depression symptoms. And people with OSA are not going to respond well to antidepressants.

Moreover, the research authors also recognize that there other factors, like the side effects of other medications, may cause depression treatment failure. Such other medicines that may affect treatment-resistant depression include corticosteroids and beta-blockers.

The study authors also indicate that one key factor is suicidal tendencies. The team recommends further investigation and research on whether or not treating sleep apnea will also lessen suicidal thoughts. There’s a need for further studies on the link of sleep apnea to suicidal tendencies and depression. In the US alone, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in all ages.

Furthermore, you can find several sleep apnea devices that help you or someone you know to sleep well. One of the bestsellers audiobook you can find in Amazon is the Hacking Sleep Apnea - 6th Edition: 18 Strategies to Breath & Sleep Easy Again. This audiobook recommends methods that will make you or someone you know manage sleep apnea well.

Managing Depression With Sleep Apnea


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