In a new study conducted at the University of Adelaide in Australia and the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, research found that sleep apnea symptoms were associated with traits of depression and were linked to higher risk of the mental health condition. This research surveyed 1,875 male participants, ranging between the ages of 35 and 83 over a five year period.
Obstructive sleep apnea affects approximately 50 percent of men and 20 percent of women, but sadly, upwards of 82 percent of cases go undiagnosed. The study found that obstructive sleep apnea and consistent daytime drowsiness were individually associated with the onset of depression and the combination of both caused a higher risk of having the condition.
None of the men in the study had been diagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea prior to entering the study, but 857 were assessed for this condition after joining. Those found to have sleep apnea were twice as likely to be depressed compared to those who did not have it. The participants, who had both severe sleep apnea and consistent daytime drowsiness, were four times as likely to be depressed as those who had no sleep issues, according to the research.
The study found that men with an undiagnosed sleep disorder and consistent daytime drowsiness had four times the chance of having depression than people who did not have a sleep disorder. Men with a diagnosed sleep disorder were found to be twice as likely to have depression as their peers who did not have the disorder.
All of these men were assessed for depression twice during the study, both tests being five years apart. This gap in time allowed researchers to determine whether sleeping issues could be linked to the development of depression. The men who had severe sleep apnea were found to be almost three times as likely to become depressed during that five year period. This study’s findings mirrored some prior research that was published in 2012, which found that male and female participants who experienced symptoms of sleep apnea were three times as likely to show signs of major depression when compared to those who did not sleep apnea symptoms.
While there appeared to be definite link between sleep disorders and depression, the nature of the relationship remains unclear. Dr. Carol Lang, of the University of Adelaide’s Department of Medicine stated, “Depression is a serious health concern and a lot remains unknown about how to effectively treat it in men.” She also noted that “men were less likely to seek, and more likely to drop out of, treatment for their depression and are four times more likely to die from suicide attempts than females.” Lang says that is a very strong link between sleep disorders and depression. She advises that doctors to examine male patients who reports signs of depression for symptoms of sleep disorders.
Depression affects millions of American every day and sadly, many of them do not receive treatment. Sovereign Health Group is among the leading mental health treatment providers in the country. We offer various inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for patients struggling with mental health disorders, drug and alcohol addiction and dual diagnosis. If you know someone who is struggling with depression and is in need of mental health treatment, please do not hesitate to call us. Our admissions line is open 24/7 and one of our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment option for you.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer