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Sleep Apnea Depression. If you're asking which one it is, sleep apnea or depression, you're in good company: unfortunately, primary care physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and patients often confuse sleep apnea and depression. Understandably so. Loss of energy, loss of interest in once enjoyable things, difficulty concentrating and fatigue are common symptoms of depression. But they are also common symptoms of sleep apnea, and new research is continually emerging to show the connection between the two. An article published in the September 2005 issue of the journal Chest concluded that many patients with depression symptoms improved markedly when treated with CPAP. The study showed that of those being treated with CPAP, 40 of the 41 participants taking antidepressants and those not taking them showed decreases in their depression scores.

But if you're relying solely on the opinion of your psychiatrist to treat your depression, a referral to a sleep physician is not likely. Why? Pharmaceutical companies spend tens of millions of dollars in advertising each year to convince psychiatrists and the general public that antidepressants are the way to treat depression. What about when antidepressants don't work? MORE antidepressants! The pharmaceuticals have created a new category of antidepressants which they call "Add-On" antidepressants. By its own admission, one pharmaceutical company that puts out the "Add-On" medication Abilify (aripiprazole) acknowledges that "studies show that approximately two-thirds of those diagnosed with depression did not achieve adequate symptom relief after taking an antidepressant alone."

The bottom line is that if you suffer from depression, and have one or more of the signs of sleep apnea, such as snoring, you'd do yourself a favor by getting evaluated by a sleep physician and not just a psychiatrist. I can tell you from personal experience that this is a good idea. I did it and it changed my life.

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Comment by Banyon on January 10, 2012 at 12:08pm

I will be out for a few days on a business trip. Will someone point Susan Jane Lau in the right direction to get the software and card reader for her machine?

She mentions ResMed but that certainly is the description of a Respironics machine and the humidifier is Respironics. Susan please double check that.

The Respironics bi-pap Pros are all data capable and use Encore Pro or Encore Viewer software. The Respironics cardreader will be needed.


Comment by Susan Jane Lau on January 10, 2012 at 11:27am
Response to Banyon
I have the bi-pap pro/bi-pap sys1 pro 650
Resmed/ bi- pap pro
Ipap22/ epap 18
Serial no. PO41943977585F
C-pap humid/ cpap, humidifier heated
Respironics/C-pap humid
Serial no.H04189963CE5C
Cpap tub6/cpap tubing 6'/cpap tub6
Mask is QuattroFF size smll
Comment by Banyon on January 10, 2012 at 9:28am

Susan Jane Lau,

What is the exact model of your machine and mask? Do you have the software for the machine? If so, what does it show about the effectiveness of your CPAP therapy - number and length of events, leak line?

When CPAP works well it cures and prevents depression in many people. That is because sleep apnea was the sole cause of depression to begin with.

My depression ended when I  got my CPAP therapy working well. At first it was not working well but I got a copy of the software and saw I was still having many apneas despite using CPAP.

I tweaked my settings until the software showed AHI < 2.0. Then the depression went away quickly and energy levels greatly improved.

Comment by Susan Jane Lau on January 10, 2012 at 8:56am
I have been taking Paxil for 2 years. My depression is under control and I have been feeling great. Two weeks ago I was put on a Bipap machine for severe sleep apnea. I like the machine and have no problems with the mask. My pressure was lowered from 22/18 to 18/14. My depression is back in the morning when I get up. The technician said this is not a common side effect.
I am very upset about this. Has this happened to anyone? Will the depression go away with continued use?
Comment by Terry Vella on November 15, 2011 at 7:19pm
Richard, I was dianosed with depression prior to being diagnosed with sleep apnea. I believe the sleep apnea caused the depression although as the article says the symptoms are almost the same and I am not sure if I ever had depression. I am still on meds for the depression but I believe the CPAP has help dramatically and I now use herbal tablets for stress and anxiety. On the mask leaks have you tried mask liners and do you have the hose coming from over your head? These two things have really helped me. I also smear some Vicks Vapor rub under my nose each night and only use a nasal spray if I have a cold. Good Luck.
Comment by richard graham on November 15, 2011 at 1:37pm

Mary, just to add I also suffer lower back pain only when I sleep which adds to my tiredness.  my doc says its because of my weight, so that is something I also need to work on.  thanks

Comment by richard graham on November 15, 2011 at 1:34pm

thanks Mary for your help.  I will look into the depression and something for my nose.  I probably need a new seal for my mask. 

Comment by Mary Z on November 15, 2011 at 12:58pm

If your machine doesn't give you leak data you just have to do the best you can to minimize leaks.  If you're mouth breathing and don't want to use a chin strap or tape, you do need the FFM.  Perhaps your doc can start you on a prescription nasal spray for the stuffy nose.  I am a mouth breather with occasional  nasal stuffiness and I use a total face mask which works fine for me.

Comment by richard graham on November 15, 2011 at 12:39pm

Thanks Mary, I suffer from stuffy nose alot.  I use humidity and breathe rite strips to help but still struggle.  I also am not sure but think I may have a leaky mask.  I use a fisher paykel full face.  I dont have a machine with data and cant afford one, so I have to go by how I feel.  I have used a ultra mirage nasal mask but was mouth breathing.  I would be grateful for any advice.


Comment by Mary Z on November 15, 2011 at 12:10pm

richard, you still might want to get checked out for depression, especially if you are having trouble with your CPAP and not able to use it all night, every night.  What kind of problems are you having with your CPAP that we can help you with?

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