New research studies have concluded that people who suffer from a condition of sleep apnea has a greater risk of being depressed. The use of a CPAP to apply positive pressure on their airway can reduce the effects of the depression.

What is Sleep Apnea?

When a person has difficulties breathing when they are sleeping, or when a person has short periods where they stop breathing while they are asleep, doctors say they have sleep apnea.

The causes of sleep apnea

There are three types of sleep apnea.

  • Central apnea happens because the brain does not activate the muscles that are required for breathing while the person is sleeping.
  • Obstructive apnea happens when the airway collapses during sleep
  • A combination of central apnea and obstructive apnea can happen simultaneously

The Study on Sleep Apnea

Australian researchers studied two hundred and ninety three participants that had recently been diagnosed with the condition known as sleep apnea. Of that group, a reported seventy-three percent suffered from depression. It was noted that the participants who had the more severe cases of sleep apnea also had the more severe cases of depression. The participants were provided CPAP to use for a three month period.

The patients were instructed to use the CPAP for at least five hours each night for a period of three months.

The Results of the Study

At the end of the three month period the percentage of patients that had significant symptoms of depression had been reduced to only four percent. When the study first began forty one of the participants had reported to the researchers that they had considered suicide. At the end of the three month uses of the CPAP none of the participants reported to the research team that they had a desire to commit suicide.

What this means

The medical community can take this information and reduce depression and possible suicide through the use of a CPAP machine. People who tell their doctors that they are depressed should undergo testing to see if they suffer from some form of sleep apnea. If they do suffer from sleep apnea, they should be provided with a CPAP and instructed to use the device at least five hours each night.

What is a CPAP?

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. A device that is worn at night will provide the continuous positive airway pressure and can greatly reduce the complications of sleep apnea.

Complications of sleep apnea other than depression

Sleep apnea can affect your life in many different ways. Depression is simply the latest revelation that researchers have had concerning the condition of sleep apnea. Some of the other things sleep apnea can cause are:

  • high blood pressure
  • atrial fibrillation
  • increased risk of stroke

The CPAP is one of many things that people who suffer from sleep apnea can do, or use, to lessen the severity of their condition. You should talk to your doctor about losing weight, stopping smoking, and the other methods of treating this condition.