Sleep apnea confidently linked to depression 97



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New research reported yesterday shows that whilst we know people with depression often suffer sleep problems, those suffering sleep conditions could in fact find this is the cause of depression. It is a turnaround view of sleep apnea that has thoracic physicians taking stock and asking depressed patients to have a look at their risks of sleep apnea. And no doubt, if you know someone with or suffer sleep apnea yourself, you’ll be able to take another look at how it might be affecting you or them.

In an Australian study presented at the Denver American Thoracic Society Conference this week, 3, it was found that those with excessive daytime sleepiness were 10 per cent more likely to be depressed than those without, according to researchers from the University of Adelaide and the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health. The relationship held up even after taking other risk factors into account. The sample size of the study was considerable at 2000 men aged between 35 and 83. Of this sample, none of the men had been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea before they got involved in the study but 857 were found to be impacted by it after joining the group. And the results were astounding. Among those who were found to have sleep apnea there was 2.1 times higher odds that they were depressed than those who lived without sleep disorders.

Those who suffered severe versions of the disorder and recorded both sleep apnea or severe daytime sleepiness were found to be 4.2 times more likely to be depressed compared with men who had no sleep issues according to the research. And those with both the above conditions were also 3.5 times more likely to be depressed than men with only one of the disorders.

The test ran over a five year period, with the men being tested twice, five years apart so the research team could isolate the linkages to the diagnosis of depression. Not surprisingly to the research team, the men suffering severe sleep apnea were 2.9 times more likely to become depressed during those five years.

The message left behind by researchers is that there is an actionable link between sleep and depression and that people diagnosed with depression should be checked for obstructive sleep apnea.


Do you know someone with sleep apnea? 

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. I don’t have it thank goodness.
    Have friends who suffer from sleep apnea. Thise machines they have to wear are awful.

    2 REPLY
    • Ruth really – yes the masks arn’t that prety but wow do they help you so much – amazing really

    • Stuart
      Nothing to do with what they look like. They are uncomfortable and noisy. One friend refuses to wear hers so continues to suffer.

  2. We had a neighbour some years back who suffered sleep apnoea. He didn’t qualify for any assistance to get a CPAP machine, so the community pitched in to help. It made a huge difference to his life.

    1 REPLY
  3. its so hard to sleep with it on

    3 REPLY
    • The settings must be set properly to suit the individual. One mob set my son’s CPAP machine so high that they could have damaged his lungs. If it feels wrong….go to another practitioner or pharmacy with specialist staff.

  4. Yes i agree the link is huge.. depression and sleep apnea. .. huge percentage of people diagnosed let alone undiagnosed. Prayers all that left i suppose

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