Recent research also shows that sleep apnea can cause depression.
An estimated 18 million Americans have sleep apnea and 15 million adults are estimated to have a major depressive episode every year. So a significant number of the population could be affected by both conditions.
There is a correlation between sleep and mood, and lack of sleep and depression. Some people experience an onset of symptoms from both conditions at the same time, while others experience sleep deprivation before depression.
Both conditions share risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing either condition uniquely.
Symptoms of depression and sleep apnea can sometimes overlap, making it difficult for people experiencing one to realize they’re also experiencing the other. This is especially true because depression can be a symptom of sleep apnea.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
Symptoms of depression include:
The key to a differential diagnosis is to first determine if you have sleep apnea, as the sleep apnea may be causing or contributing to your depression.
Make an appointment with your primary doctor. They will refer you to a sleep clinic, where you’ll have your sleep evaluated overnight.
If the healthcare providers there don’t think you have sleep apnea, they can refer you to a mental health professional to talk about your depression.
In some cases, treating sleep apnea may help treat depression or reduce its symptoms, especially if it contributes to or causes the depression.
You can use some methods to start treating both conditions at home, before you even see a doctor. Home treatment for a combination of sleep apnea and depression could include:
In a large number of cases, improving the amount and quality of your sleep can help to treat depression and other conditions like anxiety in addition to easing sleep apnea.
If you’re struggling with either sleep apnea or depression — or both — and home treatment isn’t helping, make an appointment to see your doctor.
High-quality sleep isn’t a luxury — it’s a necessity. And improved sleep and reduced depression will improve your overall health and your quality of life all at once.