Depressed? There could be many reasons – but a study reported by ABC News claims your depression could be linked to sleep issues.
Members of the study experienced a decrease in depression symptoms and some were even able to cease using antidepressants following CPAP therapy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
The study offers one exciting new clue to a disease – depression – that has puzzled physicians and sufferers alike for centuries and still is not always clearly understood.
Something in Common: Depression and OSA
The study, which was conducted by Dr. Daniel Schwartz at the University Community Hospital in Tampa, FL, demonstrated a correlation between assisted, improved breathing at night via a CPAP device and a lessening of depression symptoms.
It took six weeks of regular CPAP use for depression sufferers to experience relief.
“This study confirms findings of prior studies and addresses long term resolution of symptoms of depression after using CPAP,” said Dr. Carmen Schroder, an instructor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University, Paolo Alto, CA.
How Did it Happen?
The actual mechanism that apparently links better breathing to less depression is not clear, researchers said.
But it’s possible that some depression symptoms in people with OSA may actually be over-tiredness and not clinical depression at all, according to experts in the fields of depression and sleep disorders.
Further research is needed, but if this is the case, then some OSA sufferers who have been diagnosed with depression may not actually be depressed, and could potentially be helped by CPAP or other therapies that allow for better breathing at night.
What is Depression?
Depression is a serious illness. Never attempt to diagnose or treat depression on your own.
See your doctor if you experience any of these common depression symptoms (from WebMD):
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
If You Suspect OSA is Causing or Worsening Your Depression
It’s clear that many depression symptoms can overlap those of consistent sleep loss (in fact, fatigue is, itself, one possible symptom of depression). If you’re depressed and snore or think you may snore, the temptation is there to fix your snoring rather than delve into other possible depression causes.
Please remember that BOTH conditions warrant a qualified physician’s input. If you think you may have OSA, or have been diagnosed and suspect your OSA is linked to feelings of depression, see your doctor to find out what you can do to feel better.
Don’t worry, and don’t give up hope. See what you can do right now to help solve these issues to have a better, happier and more productive quality of life right now.