One of the dangers of sleep apnea is the risk of serious mood disorders and other cognitive problems. We have noted before the risk for misdiagnosis of depression in people with sleep apnea. Now a new study shows that sleep apnea may be rampant among the population of psychiatric hospitals, where it could interfere with treatment or outcomes.

This is a powerful reminder that whenever you are facing difficulties with a mood disorder, it’s important to consider that sleep apnea may be contributing to your problem.

Looking at Sleep Apnea in a Hospitalized Population

For this study, researchers looked at people who were treated at an acute psychiatric treatment unit at the American University of Beirut Medical Center. They attempted to determine the frequency of sleep apnea and excessive daytime sleepiness among this population.

To identify these risks, they used both the Berlin questionnaire (BQ) and the Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS). Along with these sleep-related tools, information was taken including general demographics, psychiatric diagnosis, depression symptoms, and anxiety symptoms.

They found that, overall, 39.5% of patients had high risk of sleep apnea according to the BQ. However, only 9.9% had excessive daytime sleepiness, according to the ESS.

The risk of sleep apnea was found to be related to a higher body mass index (BMI) and depression severity. The more depressed a person was, the higher their risk of sleep apnea. People with severe depressions symptoms were found to have about four times the risk for having sleep apnea.

Increased Screening Could Help

Researchers note that the high prevalence of OSA could have serious consequences for the treatment of psychiatric patients. They say that doctors should strongly consider the risks of sleep apnea among these patients and apply screening tools to help determine whether sleep apnea could be contributing to psychiatric patients’ symptoms.

This is also an important consideration for people suffering from psychiatric conditions. Sleep apnea treatment isn’t a replacement for psychiatric treatment, but it’s important to make sure you get an accurate diagnosis. Undiagnosed sleep apnea can sometimes be misdiagnosed as depression. And it’s been shown that sleep apnea treatment can actually treat depression symptoms.

And it’s important that people with psychiatric conditions receive effective sleep apnea treatment in support of their psychiatric treatment. Often this may be CPAP, but for many people oral appliance therapy is just effective and can be a better fit for many people. People with PTSD, who have lower CPAP compliance rates, may benefit significantly from oral appliance therapy and should be presented with the option when appropriate. Oral appliances have been shown to be effective for treating psychological distress.

If you want to learn more about how sleep apnea could be affecting your physical and mental health in Omaha, please call (402) 493-4175 today for an appointment with a sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.