Apnoea / Apnea Linked To Depression

Fri, Apr 15, 2011

Recent research, by Dr Carmel Schroeder and Dr Ruth O’Hara at Stanford University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, points to a clear link between sleep disordered breathing (SDB) and depression.

A key point made by the doctors is that symptoms of depression are often considered and accounted for in patients with SDB conditions … but “On the other hand, sleep problems and particularly Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, are rarely assessed on a regular basis with patients with a depressive disorder.”

This is particulary worrying because:  “OSA might not only be associated with a depressive syndrome, but its presence may also be responsible for failure to respond to appropriate pharmacological treatment.  Further more, an undiagnosed OSA might be exacerbated by adjunct treatments to antidepressant medications, such and benzodiazepines.”

Bottom line:  Patients suffering from depression should be checked for the existence of an underlying SDB condition.  If there is any indication of sleep disturbance (such as snoring, repeated wakenings, waking tiredness, daytime sleepiness, frequent nighttime urination) a sleep study must be performed to confirm whether or not an SDB condition exists. 

If SDB is diagnosed, treatment of this condition must occur before or in conjunction with any treatment for depression.