PAP Therapy May Improve Depression in People With Obstructive Sleep Apnea (Video)

Help with breathing well at night is the key

man wearing breathing machine

Are you moody from missing sleep? If you are often tired, if you snore, and if you stop breathing sometimes at night, you may have obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.

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It’s not just about missing some z’s.

People with OSA stop breathing during sleep as tissue in the back of their throats collapses and blocks the airway. This raises the risk of heart disease and stroke and causes depression. However, people may relieve depression caused by OSA by treating it with positive airway pressure, or PAP, a ventilation device that blows a gentle stream of air into the nose during sleep to keep the airway open.

Charles Bae, MD, who treats sleep disorders in the Cleveland Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, led a study with these findings.  “Patients with sleep apnea who are able to use the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine for four hours or more had a significant decrease in their depressive symptoms,” Dr. Bae says.

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Dr. Bae and fellow researchers questioned nearly 800 people with OSA to learn about their depressive symptoms. Then they asked people to use PAP to help keep their airways open for at least four hours each night. They found that all of the study participants who used PAP showed significant relief from depression. Even those who only partly followed the PAP regimen saw improvements.

Dr. Bae says it’s important to pay attention to the symptoms of sleep apnea. “A lot of people don’t even know they have it, so if someone is tired, if they’re snoring, someone says that they stop breathing at night, it’s important to tell your doctor about this because sleep apnea is a treatable condition,” Dr. Bea says. He adds, “Once you treat it, chances are you will feel better. Even if you’re not sleepy, you may feel that your mood is better.”

The findings are being presented this week at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s annual meeting.

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