Treating Sleep Apnea Improves Depression Symptoms

Recent studies show depression symptoms get better with nightly sleep apnea treatment.

A Cleveland Clinic study, presented at the annual SLEEP 2012 conference in June, shows that use of positive airway pressure (PAP) for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is also linked with improving depression symptoms.

"The score improvements remained significant even after taking into account whether a patient had a prior diagnosis of depression or was taking an anti-depressant," said researcher Dr. Charles Bae, M.D.

The study found that people who used the PAP for more than four hours per night experienced greater gains in easing depression than people who used it less.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, OSA and depression are known to be linked, though it remains unclear whether the depression causes sleeping problems, or if sleeping problems make people depressed.

Another study published this year, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that the likelihood of depression in study participants increased along with the rate of gasping and stopping breathing while sleeping.

"When a person stops breathing like this, they are momentarily brought out of deeper levels of sleep," said Anne G. Wheaton, a CDC epidemiologist and lead author of the study. "They may not fully wake up, but they will not get the proper amount of rest."

Cells need oxygen to "perform whatever tasks there are for the brain to perform and if they're not getting enough, a person's physical and mental health seems to suffer," said Wheaton.

A 2003 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry showed that people with depression have five times the normal risk of sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea.

Dr. Marjorie Yong helps patients achieve a healthier life by addressing not only individual medical problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or hypertension, but also the root causes, such as obesity and sleep apnea, which often underlie such disorders.

Dr. Yong has over 13 years of experience with patients reducing weight for health reasons including pre- and post-gastric bypass patients, children, and adults. Her goal
is to help everyone to achieve a healthier weight for the long-term benefits. In addition to weight loss treatment, she advises on general health maintenance and screens for other disorders. Her practice, Yong at Heart Total Wellness, is based in Encino, California.