Problems with sleeping have always been a symptom of depression, but a new study from the University of Adelaide suggests that they may also cause depression.
Although it is unclear what the link between the two conditions is, the researchers at the University of Adelaide and the Adelaide Health Institute found that obstructive sleep apnea triggers a higher risk of depression in men.
For the study an initial phone pooling asked men if they had problems sleeping and if they had ever been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. From the respondents who answered negative, 1,875 men aged 35 to 83 were included in the study.
All participants were assessed for depression twice during the study in an interval of 5 years in the Men Androgen Inflammation Lifestyle Environment and Stress Study. It resulted that obstructive sleep apnea that hadn’t been previously diagnosed was linked with depression.
Carol J. Lang from the University of Adelaide commented that:
“Depression is highly prevalent in OSA, reaching 39% in clinic studies. However, few population-based studies have been done and results have been mixed”.
Throughout the study, daytime sleepiness present with the participants indicated a 10 percent higher likelihood that they also suffer from depression. 857 of the participants were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea during the study. This group was 2.1 times more probable to be depressed than the group that wasn’t diagnosed with the condition.
A control group that didn’t present either obstructive sleep apnea or daytime sleepiness indicated that those who presented both conditions were 4.2 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression. Also, they have a 3.5 times more chances to suffer from depression than men with only one condition.
The two assessments for depression were performed 5 years apart to allow the researchers to evaluate if sleep disorders could be linked to a depression diagnose.
It resulted that overall, men who were diagnosed initially with obstructive sleep apnea were 2.9 times more likely to be diagnosed with depression in the same period of time.
Statistical adjustments were made taking into consideration other factors of risk such as age, smoking history, financial issues, waist circumference, erectile dysfunction and others. However, the findings stood their ground.
The study was presented at the American Thoracic Society’s 2015 International Conference in Denver. The conference moderator, M.D. Mihaela Teodorescu from the University of Wisconsin, Madison agreed that the results of the research team point to a significant clinical issue.
She stated that overall sleep apnea does lead to depression and as a result patients are treated more intensively, including with benzodiazepins that can make things even worse, contributing to depression and aggravating symptoms.
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