Depression and sleep apnea are interrelated. Knowing what symptoms to look for can help you obtain treatment for both conditions.

If you’ve had problems with sleep, you’re probably no stranger to feeling tired during the day. Sleeping too much or not enough is commonly associated with depression. Sleep problems, in general, can be related to many mental health conditions.

Sleep apnea occurs when you don’t get enough oxygen while sleeping. This can leave you tired during the day. Depression and sleep apnea are linked. Sleep apnea can cause depression because of how it leaves you feeling. Depression can also disrupt sleep.

There’s a substantial overlap between symptoms of depression and sleep apnea. There are many treatments available for both depression and sleep apnea.

Yes, sleep apnea can cause depression. Depression and sleep apnea share many symptoms. Research indicates that in individuals with major depressive disorder(MDD), 18% of individuals also have associated obstructive sleep apnea. The same study suggests that among those with sleep apnea, there’s a 17.6% prevalence rate of MDD.

If you have sleep apnea, the symptoms of major depressive disorder may resolve with appropriate treatment. If you’re experiencing both sleep apnea and depression, getting treatment may be beneficial. The overlap of symptoms may make it difficult to tell if you have depression or a sleep disorder.

Having challenges with sleep isn’t uncommon if you have depression. It can be difficult to figure out whether you have a sleep disorder, you’re depressed, or both.

Due to the overlapping nature of both conditions, understanding the symptoms of sleep apnea and depression might help you obtain the proper treatment.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where your airway becomes restricted while sleeping. As a result, you may stop and start breathing several times throughout the night.

According to 2018 research, common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • fatigue
  • daytime sleepiness
  • headaches in the morning
  • irritability
  • memory loss
  • non-refreshing sleep
  • frequent urination at night
  • snoring
  • anxiety
  • obesity

There’s some overlap between these symptoms and symptoms associated with depression.

Depression is a mental health condition that’s classified as a mood disorder. Depression is typically associated with a low mood.

Common symptoms of depression, according to research include:

  • low mood or sadness
  • lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • lack of energy
  • sleep disturbances
  • feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, or guilt
  • appetite changes
  • poor concentration
  • suicidal thoughts
  • psychomotor agitation
  • weight loss or gain

Depression has many symptoms associated with sleep disturbances.

Some of the overlapping symptoms between depression and sleep apnea include:

  • disturbed sleep
  • fatigue
  • weight gain

If you have comorbid symptoms of depression and sleep apnea, speaking with a medical professional for a proper diagnosis may be helpful.

Other conditions linked to sleep apnea and depression

If you live with depression and sleep apnea, you could also deal with other physical and mental health conditions.

Some conditions that are linked to comorbid depression and sleep apnea include:

  • Anxiety: Anxiety commonly occurs with depression, as the two have a strong comorbidity. Sleep apnea can also be associated with anxiety, as sleep apnea can restrict breathing in the middle of the night and sometimes cause you to wake up anxious.
  • Coronary heart disease: 2008 research indicates that those with obstructive sleep apnea have a 30% increase in the chances of coronary heart disease. This high risk emphasizes the importance of treatment.
  • Heart failure: The same research study mentioned previously also states that those with obstructive sleep apnea have a 140% increase in the risk of heart failure.
  • Coronary artery disease: Obstructive sleep apnea is linked with an increased risk of coronary artery disease. A condition where your coronary arteries can’t get your heart enough blood, nutrients, or oxygen.

Due to the effects of sleep apnea on your heart, it’s also best to seek out and follow treatment recommendations from a medical professional. If you’re experiencing depression or other mental health conditions, consider discussing treatment options with a mental health professional.

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If you have sleep apnea and depression, several treatment options exist. Treating both sleep apnea and depression can improve your overall well-being and quality of life.

1. Positive airway pressure (PAP)

One treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP). CPAP treatment involves getting a machine that has a mask attached to it that you wear during the night to open your airway and help you breathe better at night.

BiPAP treatment is similar though there are different air pressure levels for inhalation and exhalation.

While positive airway pressure is an effective treatment for sleep apnea, research has shown low adherence to PAP therapy. Researchers suggest this may be due to nasal resistance experienced by the individuals using the machine during treatment.

2. Therapy

If you have depression and sleep apnea, seeking psychotherapy with a licensed mental health professional may be essential. Therapy can help alleviate depressive symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Some common types of therapy for depression that research indicates are effective include:

The researchers also mentioned that the therapies remained effective 1 year after the conclusion of treatment.

3. Antidepressants

If you have depression, antidepressants could be a helpful treatment option for alleviating depression symptoms. According to research, common medications prescribed for depression include:

If you’re considering medication for your depression, you might consider speaking with a medical professional to find an option that works for you.

4. Oral appliance

Oral appliances are an alternative treatment for sleep apnea. Those who don’t want to or can’t use a CPAP or BiPAP may choose to use an oral appliance. 2022research indicates that oral appliances can effectively treat sleep apnea as this can help move your jaw forward and open up your airway.

Sleep apnea and depression have severe mental and physical health implications. If you’re experiencing daytime sleepiness, sleep that isn’t refreshing, or notice weight gain, this can signal that you may be experiencing both conditions simultaneously.

You can use the FindCare tool to locate a mental health clinician near you for mental health treatment options. For sleep apnea treatment options, consider speaking with a medical professional. Treatment can help you improve your overall quality of life and lessen your health risks.