Sleep Apnea Treatment May Help Your Mental Health
Posted: March 17, 2022
Most people have had a bad night’s sleep at least once in their lives. Therefore, most of us know just how bad your mood can be when you’re running on too little sleep. However, what happens when you don’t get good quality, restful sleep every night? Those with sleep apnea experience this because they wake up multiple times each night during apnea events where they stop breathing or breathe shallowly. Many studies suggest there may be a link between mental health conditions and untreated sleep apnea due to poor sleep health. Researchers are also looking into whether sleep apnea treatment may help improve mental health symptoms related to this common sleep disorder.
Sleep Apnea Treatment with CPAP Therapy May Help Improve Mood and Energy
Sleep apnea can seriously affect your mood and energy. For example, this condition may cause:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Low mood
- Mood changes
However, sleep apnea treatment may help reduce or relieve these symptoms. The standard treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP therapy, which helps prevent apnea events where you stop breathing. This can not only help improve oxygen levels in your blood, but also help prevent waking up frequently throughout the night. In turn, it can help reduce many of the risks associated with this common sleep disorder. Treatment can also help boost mood and energy levels. This is important because poor sleep from sleep apnea may also increase the risk for some mental health issues.
People with Sleep Apnea May Have Higher Risks for Mental Health Issues
Those with sleep apnea may have higher risk for mental health issues. Studies have found those who experience excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) have a higher risk for things like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even suicidal thoughts. EDS, which is where you have difficulty staying awake and performing your day-to-day activities, is a common symptom of untreated sleep apnea.
However, even without EDS, those with sleep apnea may be more prone to mental health conditions. One of the most common mental health conditions is depression. Some studies have found a link between this condition and sleep apnea.
Depression is a mental health condition that can cause many symptoms, including:
- Low mood
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling worthless
- Loss of interest in things you enjoy
- Low energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in appetite
Many of these symptoms are also common for sleep apnea, such as sleepiness, fatigue, mood changes, and insomnia. Therefore, it can be easy to mistake untreated sleep apnea for depression. In addition, many studies have found high rates of depression in those with sleep apnea. Some estimate approximately 20% of those with depression have sleep apnea.
Depression and sleep disorders may have a bi-directional relationship, meaning sleep disorders like sleep apnea may cause and worsen depression and vice versa. Scientists are still studying the connection between sleep apnea and mental health, but many believe there is a link between depression and poor sleep quality from sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Treatment May Help Improve Mental Health Symptoms
Several studies have suggested that sleep apnea treatment may help reduce symptoms of depression. CPAP therapy is currently the most effective treatment for sleep apnea. A study from 2019 looked at the effects of CPAP therapy for those with sleep apnea and heart disease. They found that many of the participants had a significant decrease in depression cases after beginning CPAP. They found that depression symptoms improved within six months of beginning treatment with a CPAP device and that those improvements were sustained. This exciting research suggests that sleep apnea treatment may help improve mental health symptoms often linked to this sleep disorder.
Why Does Sleep Matter for Mental Health?
Why might sleep apnea cause or contribute to depression and other mental health issues? There are no definite answers and research is still ongoing. There may be many explanations why sleep apnea might play a role in mental health. However, there are some popular theories on why sleep apnea might increase the risk for mental health conditions.
Quality of Life
Symptoms of untreated sleep apnea can have serious effects on your quality of life. Many people say they have difficulty concentrating, which can affect your work life, home life, and social life. Some also feel like they’re often too tired to take part in things they enjoy. Irritability can also take a toll on relationships with romantic partners, family, and friends. These symptoms can all reduce quality of life. Poor quality of life and issues stemming from your sleep apnea symptoms may even play a role in developing mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Having untreated and undiagnosed sleep apnea can be concerning and frustrating, which may lead to more serious mood changes and depression symptoms.
Another theory behind the link between sleep and mental health is that poor sleep may affect serotonin levels. Sleep fragmentation can wreak havoc on many different systems in your body, one of which might include the serotonin neurotransmitter. Serotonin, also known as the “happy chemical” is thought to play a major role in mood. Low serotonin levels are linked to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Therefore, some believe poor quality, frequently interrupted sleep from untreated sleep apnea may lead to low serotonin levels and, by association, higher risks for mental health conditions.
Low Oxygen Levels
When you stop breathing or breathe shallowly during an apnea event, this lowers the amount of oxygen you have in your blood. Low oxygen, also known as hypoxia, from untreated sleep apnea may also play a role in mental health. Hypoxia can starve the brain of oxygen, which may also change brain activity and brain chemicals. Some believe this may also lead to depression and other mental health issues like anxiety. Sleep apnea treatment can help prevent the events that lower oxygen levels, which may help reduce the risk for hypoxia.
When to Consider Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you think you have sleep apnea, then it’s important to talk to one of our providers. Sleep apnea can not only increase the risk for mental health conditions, but it can also take a toll on your physical health, increasing the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and more.
Some symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Waking up choking or gasping
- Morning headaches
- Dry mouth or throat
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood changes
- Low libido
- Depression symptoms
- Waking up frequently during the night to urinate
Some people are also more at risk for having sleep apnea. You can take our simple sleep apnea risk assessment quiz to determine your risk level for sleep apnea.
If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, then our provider may prescribe treatments such as CPAP therapy to help reduce your symptoms and other health risks associated with untreated sleep apnea.
Think You Have Sleep Apnea? Visit Us for Men’s Health Management
Our team at Low T Center offers total men’s health management solutions. We are here to help you feel your best by helping you address your health. Our team is here to help you find the underlying cause of your symptoms. Make an appointment today for a comprehensive health assessment to take the first step toward better health.
Disclaimer: This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Low T Center. You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.