Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been linked to depression symptoms, according to data from the CDC. But a 2012 study found that sleep-disordered breathing (snoring, gasps and other issues during sleep) has a depression link even in patients not diagnosed with OSA.
Researchers in the 2012 study weren’t certain of correlation v. causation conclusions, but one possible link may be diminished oxygen during the brain during disordered sleep episodes. The reduced oxygen flow may lead to symptoms including those of depression, according to data.
In addition, poor sleep overall means worse productivity and functioning the next day, which over time could contribute to depression.
It’s too early to theorize that patients being treated for depression will need less medication and other therapies once their sleep issues are resolved, but the link warrants further study, according to researchers.
Can Anything Be Done?
On the positive side, these and other findings mean both sleep and depression may be treated more effectively in the future.
In fact, research at the University of Calgary, Canada, published in November 2014 indicated that CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) and/or mandibular advancement devices (sleep mouthpiece) therapies could improve symptoms of depression over time as sleep quality improved.
The improvements were modest but encouraging, according to researchers.
Steps You Can Take
Never overlook symptoms of depression. Even if you feel you know the cause (for instance, a difficult period in your life, sleep issues or other reasons), depression is a serious disease which needs to be addressed by your doctor.
Because of the well-known link between sleep issues and depression, many doctors who treat a patient for sleep disorders will also screen for depression. However, not all do. Don’t be embarrassed about addressing possible depression issues with your physician, and don’t think it will “just go away” or that you need to tough it out. Help is out there.
Meanwhile, if you’ve been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, do follow your doctor’s instructions exactly. If you haven’t seen your doctor yet for your sleep issues and you’re feeling down, depressed, less productive, hopeless or anxious, make an appointment today. Don’t wait on this critical issue.
You may feel your sleep and depression issues are insurmountable. They’re not. Newer and better treatments are being developed and revealed consistently in the field of both sleep and mental health. Addressing your sleep issues may be a first step toward better health not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. Addressing this all-important part of your life – good sleep – can be a first step toward improving your life in ways you never expected.