Depressed and Exhausted: It Could Be Something More

Sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness tied to depression risk

(RxWiki News) A bad night's sleep can make you feel tired and unfocused during the day. If left untreated, that cycle may become more than just an inconvenience.

A new study found that untreated sleep apnea may be linked to depression in adult men.

“Men [with] depression should be screened for obstructive sleep apnea, so that an appropriate course of treatment can be planned,” said lead study author Carol Lang, PhD, of the University of Adelaide in Australia, in a press release.

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing stops or is interrupted periodically during sleep. It is usually caused by an obstruction in the airway — often due to the jaw sinking into the throat, closing off the airway.

Dr. Lang and team studied men ages 35 to 83 and their sleeping habits — then assessed them for depression. They found that sleep apnea and daytime sleepiness were tied to higher odds of depression.

Patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) often experience chronic sleepiness during the day.

For this study, Dr. Lang and team followed 1,875 men for five years. The men were assessed for depression twice during this time. Almost half of these men also participated in a sleep study.

The researchers found that men with undiagnosed severe OSA were twice as likely to have depression than men without OSA. Men with excessive sleepiness during the day also had a higher risk of depression.

Additionally, men with both OSA and daytime sleepiness were almost five times as likely to have depression as men without OSA and daytime sleepiness.

This study was presented May 19 at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Denver, CO. Research presented at conferences may not have been peer-reviewed.

No conflicts of interest or funding sources were disclosed.

Review Date: 
May 11, 2015