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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 richard graham on November 15, 2011 at 12:43am

I can  relate to Brennan's story.  I know about the depression and Hating myself and others.  I still suffer from that stuff.  I actually thought about getting checked out by my doctor for depression and get on meds, but not now.  My life has been a living hell.  I have a cpap, but struggle with it.  I appreciate what people say about getting data machines and keeping track of how my ahi  is.  I have know idea right now what my ahi is.   My headgear is wore out and I have leaks from my mask.  I have to figure out how to fix these issues.  My insurance deductble is huge, so I have to go about it different. 

Comment by Christine A. Tedeschi on May 27, 2011 at 2:33pm
Wow!  Very helpful article....there is hope for me!
Comment by 99 on January 29, 2010 at 2:42am
there is reactive depression
and organic depression

reactive depession is your depressed because of the circumstances you find youself in
organic depression is a mental imbalance of brain chemistry
Comment by Stacy M. Portillo on August 8, 2009 at 11:58am
I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea - 3 months ago when I had my 3rd child in the hospital. I have always "burned the candle at both ends" but looking back, I have been diagnosed with depression, GAD (General Anxiety Disorder), didn't want to be active or do things socially so much with my husband after our first child (our 7 1/2 yr old) was born, was always "tired", anxious, stressed, depressed at times, tend to obsess about things and have LOTS of trouble focusing and being as productive as i KNOW i can be... tonite is my 2nd sleep study with the CPAP... I'm praying that I'm right and that (now that I know about the apnea) it is all connected and that i'll be a NEW person!
Comment by Brennan William Bilbao Crawford on August 5, 2009 at 7:47am
Sleep apnea doesn't sound as bad as it really is. Depression sounds a lot worse since it's a mental chemical imbalance. However, sleep apnea in my opinion is MUCH worse if not treated because it gives you so many problems, such as depression possibly being one of them. Now here's my story. He summer before my freshman year in high school I woke up one morning and decided I felt kind of funny, not too sure what I felt like, maybe a bit tired, but for sure never felt like it before.. I remember going outside to my pool and jumping in it expecting that the pools cool water would wake me up.. But sadly it never did and In fact since that day I never felt the same. Leading to me feeling very depresses, low self esteem, low energy, groggy, everything seemed pointless, my days literally turned into living hell no exaggeration, my mind was altered (imagine getting really drunk and compare that state of mind to your normal sober state, that was how much of a difference i felt by saying my mind was altered, that was the worst part too, because I didn't know anything about altered minds because I've never drinkin or anything before that. My parents always told me that it was my fault for complaining too much or not getting enough sleep. Once I conquered gettting enough sleep they blamed me for they put the blame on me not going to bed at the right time. They didn't react to how I felt until it started affecting how they felt, when I was so lost in this world and hated myself along with everyone else I made the worst choices by stealing alcohol and plenty of other bad routines. The therapist and pychologist they got for me didn't do anything to help me, one told me to think about what I do before I do it, the other diagnosed me with depression and put me on sonata I think that's what it was called, the pills didn't work and for about a two year period I was on cycle of taking these pills and switching them every few months. Around the time I was nearly sent away, I had a sleep study and was told I wake up from sleep apnea 8 times every 2 minutes. He said I wasn't getting any deep sleep and it was growing everything off with me. this led to me eventually getting surgery getting rid of my tonsils it corrected the problem halfway, and then was given the machine to cometely fix the problem. Now I am using the machine on and off, have seen some improvement with myself. Was wondering who else out there felt this same altered mind view on life as I did? Also how many times do you have to wear the machine for you to start really noticing a difference in the well being and way you feel? Thanks and best wishes to everyone going through such hard times!
Comment by Michelle Sanders on July 23, 2009 at 10:16pm
My psychiatrist was the one that referred me to have a sleep study. I've been taking antidepressants since I was 16. It wasn't until I moved 2 years ago that I found a really good psychiatrist. I went in one day so sleepy I nearly dozed off in his office! I told him I was really tired ALL the time. I didn't feel depressed, just tired. There are really good "shrinks" out there...but they are just not educated enough about sleep apnea.
Comment by sandman on June 16, 2009 at 1:57am
After having read the blogs above, I have to realize that I'm in the thick of it, sleep apnea, at the moment, I have all of the symptoms including depression, anxiety and dreams of drowning. I have been here before, six years ago, have had two surgeries which provided some relief and have been unable to use a CPAP. My anxious thoughts about my life work and the failure of a practice that I love, have only exacerbated my health issues. I live alone and am proceeding cautiously with my medical choices. Jaw surgery seems more of a risk than a sollution, but I feel like I am running out of options. Anti-depressants have not worked. I have my fifth sleep study this week and hope to determine a least a path to some relief. Does anyone have advice as to how to get started on a CPAP without waking by suffocation. I just can't breath against the pressure, no matter how low the setting.
Comment by sheila Mannix on May 30, 2009 at 5:27pm
Bless your husband, you are so very fortunate to have a husband to stand behind you in all of this. I lost the love of my life because of all of this, we were together for 25 years, so this adds to the anxiety, and little sleep for 45 years. Yep, I also cannot process so many daily living things because of the long term sleep deprivation. I struggle to learn new things, read the news, creativity, driving, speaking with clarity. It is suffocating me as well throughout every day. I do so understand. I had a sleep study several years ago and was only a 6 out of 10 level, but I know in reality I am much more than that as I identify with all you say. I go in for another study in a week. This anxiety and depression for years is taking its toll in every way, but I do know it is from lack of sleep since age 12, when we all need it the most. Thanks for sharing.
Comment by Jeannie Christmas Smith on May 28, 2009 at 12:07am
All these stories are very encouraging and give much comfort to me, but everyone seems to have, or is, using the CPAP. As I said before I'm unable to use the CPAP. Has anyone had to resort to surgery andthe same, or similar life changing experiences? If so, please answer. Thanks so much, Jeannie
Comment by Melinda Hertel on April 20, 2009 at 7:10pm
I have to say that my experience has been more like Patrick's. Once I started CPAP and felt better, I tried stopping my antidepressant. Unfortunately, I had to go back on it. I think that physicians, especially psychiatrists, would do better to look into the possible causes for the depression instead of just prescribing drugs. Although I have to stay on the antidepressant, it would have been nice to be evaluated for sleep apnea too, since the CPAP has helped me sleep, which in turn helps the depression. Also, physicians need to consider sleep apnea for every patient who complains of chronic fatigue and depression. I don't fit the profile for sleep apnea--I'm not obese, my neck is thin, I am a female, etc. The only reason I was tested for sleep apnea is because I worked for a sleep specialist. And even then it took five years of working for him before I was tested and diagnosed!

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