March 10, 2021
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep conditions, affecting over 18 million Americans. It occurs when the throat and tongue muscles relax so much that it blocks the airway, making it difficult to breathe. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to diagnose on your own, which is why it’s estimated that around 80% of cases go untreated. Sleep apnea causes a variety of health problems, and it can even contribute to depression! Read on to learn how this condition could possibly cause depression and what you can do to improve your quality of sleep and everyday life.
Is There a Connection Between Sleep Apnea & Depression?
Research shows that both sleep apnea and depression share the common symptom of insomnia. The lack of rest that sleep apnea causes can contribute to depression. In fact, according to one study, 46% of patients with sleep apnea also experienced depressive symptoms. That said, both conditions share risk factors like obesity, drug use, and heavy consumption of alcohol for example, which can increase the likelihood of developing sleep apnea or depression.
Depression vs. Sleep Apnea: What Are the Symptoms?
The two conditions do share some symptoms, which is why it’s often difficult for people who are experiencing one to realize they’re also affected by the other, especially because depression can be a symptom of sleep issues.
You may have sleep apnea if you experience:
- Loud snoring
- Waking up feeling short of breath
- Waking up with a sore throat
- Interrupted breathing during sleep
- Lack of focus
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty sleeping
Warning signs of depression include:
- Irritability and anger over small issues
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
- Changes in appetite
- Feeling of sadness or hopelessness
Your Next Steps for Treatment
In some cases, sleep apnea treatment can help with your depression, but this will vary from patient to patient. No two cases are the same, which is why it’s important that you seek help from a professional to get personalized care. Dentists can use custom-made oral appliances to help with sleep apnea, which alleviates symptoms that also contribute to depression.
There are also some steps you can take at home to treat both conditions, including:
- Exercise: Research shows that regular exercise helps alleviate depression, plus it contributes to weight loss. With obesity as common risk factor of sleep apnea, physical activity is great for both problems.
- Avoid alcohol: Drinking excessively can worsen depression and sleep apnea.
- Skip sleeping pills: While medication may seem like a good idea, it can actually contribute to symptoms of depression and worsen your quality of sleep.
Depression and sleep apnea are conditions that you don’t have to live with. Treating one could even help with the other, so what are you waiting for? Contact a sleep expert to take back control and start enjoying life once more.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. David B. Schwartz is one of the nation’s foremost sleep experts. He is one of only 250 dentists in the country to be awarded the designation of Diplomate of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and he is often a lecturer on dental sleep. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Schwartz, he can be contacted through his website or by phone at (847) 677-2808.
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