Another Study Showing Apnea Treatment Can Alleviate Depression

Despite the medical community’s insistence that sleep apnea and depression are two completely unrelated conditions, it’s hard to ignore study after study showing that treating obstructive sleep apnea can significantly improve signs and symptoms of depression. Here’s another study that was presented at the SLEEP meeting in Boston last weekend.

Oftentimes,  a very high proportion of people with obstructive sleep apnea have clinical depression. It’s estimated that about 24% of men and 9% of women have undiagnosed sleep apnea, going as high as 64% in people over 65. It’s also estimated that only a small fraction of people with sleep apnea are ever diagnosed, with an even smaller fraction of those that are diagnosed being treated effectively. Given these numbers, the implications are huge.

Yes, there are multiple other reasons for clinical depression, but knowing what we know about the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea, shouldn’t all mental health professionals first rule out obstructive sleep apnea before prescribing medications or long courses of psychotherapy?

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3 thoughts on “Another Study Showing Apnea Treatment Can Alleviate Depression

  1. I got into a spitting match with a newspaper advisor doctor who had an elderly pt complaint consisting “don’t sleep well, depressed, cognitively impaired” and the dx advise was to see a neurologist to take care of dementia-like symptoms. Somehow when observant sleep is mentioned, and it was first complaint, that is pooh poohed as a minor incidental. Hopefully, the attending neurologist suggested was wiser.

  2. I’m curious to learn the mechanisms proposed in these studies. Depression is often linked with infection and/or inflammation, both of which are ameliorated by a surfeit of slow wave- and REM sleep. Is it that? Fascinating topic, Dr. Park. I’d love for you to host a webinar on it someday.

  3. Included in my level I have to provide a presentation about depressive disorder, which includes details on the physical, sensory,
    as well as psychological factors. However , I can’t get my head around the difference between sensory symptoms and physical symptoms – they’re exactly the same thing, aren’t these people??. I believe I’m overthinking this
    particular… any kind of advice would be greatly appreciated.