Scientists in the clinic’s Sleep Disorders Center noted there were improvements even when the patients only partly followed the prescribed positive airway pressure (PAP) regimen.
For the study, researchers asked 779 patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) to fill out a standardized PHQ-9 form to assess symptoms of depression, which patients with sleep apnea often have.
They were assessed again following the PAP treatment, and all showed improvement in PHQ-9 scores.
Researchers noted, however, that patients who used their CPAP devices more than four hours a night had greater score improvements than those who were less adherent.
Other factors that affected the improvements in scores were whether the person was sleepy and patient’s marital status.
“The score improvements remained significant even after taking into account whether a patient had a prior diagnosis of depression or was taking an antidepressant,” said Charles Bae, MD, principal investigator in the study.
“The improvements were greatest in sleepy, adherent patients, but even non-adherent patients had better PHQ-9 scores. Another interesting finding was that among patients treated with PAP, married patients had a greater decrease in PHQ-9 scores compared to single or divorced patients.”
OSA is a sleep-related breathing disorder that occurs when the tissue in the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway, causing the body to stop breathing during sleep.
It disrupts sleep and can increase the risk of other health problems, such as heart disease and stroke, scientists explain. PAP therapy keeps the airway open with a stream of air.
CPAP is a form of PAP delivered through a mask worn over the nose or face and is the first-line treatment for OSA.