Field experts say that over 70 percent (70%) of individuals struggling with sleep apnea may be misdiagnosed as suffering from depression.
This is because many of them exhibit symptoms typically linked to depression, but a new study has shown that continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP therapy) can be used to successfully rid sleep apnea patients of their depression, and improve their sleep patterns as well.
Sleep apnea is described as a condition that makes patients experience brief but repeated breathing stops while asleep. The most often encountered sign of the condition is chronic snoring.
Several previous studies have linked sleep apnea to depression. The first condition has often been said to lead to the second, especially if left untreated. But the dangers of sleep apnea don’t end here as many researchers also believe that it increases an individual’s chances of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and increases their likelihood of suffering stokes.
The treatment that health experts usually use to treat sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure therapy. This consists of placing masks over the noses and / or mouths of patients while they are asleep. This allows their airways to say open by blowing air into them, gently.
To reach their conclusions, Dr. David R. Hillman, clinical professor with the University of Western Australia, and his colleagues wanted to get a better sense of the prevalence of depression symptoms so often linked to patients suffering from sleep apnea. Their other goals was to investigate whether or not continuous positive airway pressure therapy might come in handy in curing people who have these symptoms.
The researchers picked out 426 individuals, all referred to hospital sleep centers due to suspended sleep apnea. The results apply to both men and women as 243 of the test subjects were male and 183 of the test subjects were female.
Dr. Hillman and his colleagues assessed how severe the depression levels of each consenting subject was using the Patient Health Questionnaire, and assessed how severe the sleep apnea of each consenting subject was by using overnight polysomnography.
An overnight polysomnography is a sleep study that records eye movements, leg movements, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, breathing, and brain waves.
After analyzing the results they concluded that 293 of all participating subjects had from sleep apnea, and 213, or 73 percent (73%), of these subjects also suffered from 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 these patients were asked to undergo five (5) hours of continuous positive airway pressure therapy, each night for three (3) months, the researchers saw that 228 of them presented great signs of improvement – just 9, or four percent (4%), of the patients still exhibited symptoms of depression that could be classified as clinically significant.
The study was published recently, in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Image Source: pixabay.com