Sleep Apnea Linked to Depression

Sleep apnea associated with depression says CDC

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Obstructive sleep apnea - when a person doesn't breathe properly and consistently while asleep - has been linked to a long list of health issues. Add depression to that list.

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found a connection between obstructive sleep apnea or snorting while sleeping and depression.

"Get treatment if you have sleep apnea."

Anne Wheaton, PhD, an epidemiologist at the CDC and lead author of the study, and her colleagues surveyed 9,714 American adults from 2005 to 2008.

Wheaton's team asked the adults how frequently they snorted, gasped or stopped breathing while they were asleep and then assessed their emotional health with a standard test for depression.

Six percent of the men and three percent of the women had been diagnosed with sleep apnea by their doctors. Over a third of the men and about a fifth of the women reported snoring more than five times a week.

The researchers found that the men with sleep apnea were more than twice as likely to report symptoms of depression. Women with sleep apnea were five times as likely to show depression.

They also found a strong link between depression and snorting or stopped breathing during sleep. Both men and women who reported snorting or stopping breathing more than five times a week during their sleep had triple the risk of being depressed.

No link was found between snoring and depression symptoms. The researchers adjusted their findings for age, race/ethnicity, weight and education level.

"Snorting, gasping or stopping breathing while asleep was associated with nearly all depression symptoms, including feeling hopeless and feeling like a failure," Wheaton said.

"We expected persons with sleep-disordered breathing to report trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, or feeling tired and having little energy, but not the other symptoms," she said.

Because the sleeping symptoms were reported by the participants, a future better study would study the participants while they are asleep to be sure the reports are accurate.

The study appears in the April issue of the journal Sleep. The study was funded by the CDC and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research. The authors stated no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 29, 2012
Last Updated:
October 21, 2012