Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has gained a lot of attention recently, especially in light of so many war veterans coming home with this debilitating disorder. In a recent study involving over 10,000 subjects, researchers found that the risk of dementia later in life for soldiers with PTSD was twice that of people who didn’t have it, even if they weren’t wounded in battle.
Not too surprising, since both are linked to obstructive sleep apnea. In fact, it’s more likely that untreated obstructive sleep apnea is responsible for PTSD and dementia (and cardiovascular disease). Sleep apnea is known to cause brain damage via various mechanisms, including vascular insufficiency, micro-strokes and diminished brain metabolism, leading to lower brain tissue density and volume in critical areas of the brain. Obstructive sleep apnea also causes generalized over-reactivity of your involuntary nervous system. There are numerous reports of PTSD being cured years later after obstructive sleep apnea is found and treated. Since obstructive sleep apnea is so common, at least look for it before starting medications or psychotherapy. Dr. Barry Krakow is doing some cutting edge research in this area.
Did your symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks go away after treating your sleep apnea?