We know that sleep apnea can contribute to chronic low mood. Lack of sleep, sleep fragmentation, and even brain damage can account for sleep apnea causing depression. However, a new meta-analysis shows that sleep apnea treatment improves depression symptoms.

A Large Meta-Analysis

A business man at work, looking tired and depressedThe newly-published research looks at studies that have been conducted in the past looking at people with depression and sleep apnea. In order to be included, the study had to look at the impact of sleep apnea treatment on depression symptoms. Researchers identified 22 relevant studies that looked at sleep apnea treatment with either CPAP or with oral appliances (it’s nice to see oral appliances included for a change).

The study showed that both treatments were able to provide significant relief of sleep apnea symptoms, including depression. CPAP was used for the majority of studies, 19, and this partly contributed to the wide disparity in results among CPAP treatments experiments. Oral appliances were used in 5 studies (two used both), and were more uniform in their results. Studies ranged in size from a mere 23 participants to a rather large 391 participants, and in length from 1 week to 24 weeks.

Showing that both these treatments can effectively reduce depression is important because it helps people and their doctors understand that there are many options for approaching treatment of depression.

It’s noteworthy that this study confirms results of a Dutch study that was published just a little too late to be included in the review (this review cuts off in August, but that study was published in September).

Is Sleep Apnea behind Your Depression?

It’s likely that many people who suspect or have been diagnosed with depression have sleep apnea as the primary or as a contributing cause. Many common symptoms of depression, such as daytime sleepiness, lack of energy, and loss of interest, are associated with sleep apnea. As a result, people who have been diagnosed with depression should talk to their doctor about sleep apnea and consider a sleep test to determine whether it’s a factor.

If you think sleep apnea may be contributing to your depression, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist to talk about treatment options.