A new study has found that more than 70 percent (70%) of people suffering from sleep apnea experience symptoms associated with depression. This may cause field experts to misdiagnose their patients.
• Symptoms, dangers and treatment of sleep apnea.
• Description of the experiments conducted for the study.
• Results of the experiments.
The good news is that sleep apnea patients can be cured of their depression symptoms with the help of continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP therapy).
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes people to experience brief yet repeated breathing stops during sleep. Chronic snoring has proven to be the most frequently encountered sign of the condition.
The link between sleep apnea and depression is not a new one as several previous studies have indicated that sleep apnea is likely to increase a person’s chances of experiencing depression, especially if left untreated. The condition has also been said to raise the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and suffering stokes.
The most popular treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure therapy. It consists of placing a mask over the nose and / or mouth of the patient while he or she sleeps. This helps their airway to say open by carefully blowing air into it.
For the new study, Dr. David R. Hillman, clinical professor from the University of Western Australia, and his colleagues wanted to try to better understand the prevalence of depression symptoms associated with patients suffering from sleep apnea. They also wanted to test if continuous positive airway pressure therapy can be used to cure patients of these symptoms.
To reach their conclusions, the research team recruited 426 individuals, all with suspended sleep apnea. The results apply to both sexes, as 243 of the subjects were men and 183 of the subjects were women.
The field experts assessed the depression levels of consenting subjects using the Patient Health Questionnaire, while the severity of their sleep apnea was assessed while using overnight polysomnography (a sleep study which records leg movements, eye movements, heart rate, breathing, blood oxygen levels, and brain waves).
The results showed that 293 of the subjects suffered from sleep apnea. Seventy-three percent (73%), or 213 of these patients also exhibited symptoms of depression.
An interesting finding is that the more severe a subject’s sleep apnea was, the more their chances of experiencing depression increased.
But after the sleep apnea patients underwent five (5) hours of continuous positive airway pressure therapy for three (3) months straight, the research team noticed that 228 of them showed tremendous signs of improvement – only four percent (4%), or 9 of the subjects still had symptoms of depression that were clinically significant.
Field experts estimate that more than 25 million American adults suffer from sleep apnea, also known as obstructive sleep apnea.
The study was published recently, in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Image Source: pixabay.com