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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 March 18, 2009 at 1:04pm
Sally,

You sound a little bit like me. When I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, I was thrilled!

I was thrilled because I knew there was a treatment that could give me my life back.

Good luck,
Comment by Sally on March 18, 2009 at 12:22pm
I'm so glad I found this site, I'm newly diagnosed and dont have a machine yet but am looking forward to it. I've had 2 sleep studies, one without CPAP and last nite, one with. Both times I was very uncomfortable and didnt sleep well but I'm anxious to get set up at home. I too have all the problems described by so many here, depression, tiredness etc etc. I'm SO praying that this will help, I'm 62 and would like to really enjoy the rest of my life.
Comment by Jeffrey Donaldson on March 3, 2009 at 10:28pm
Before I knew that I had sleep apnea, I had a depressive eposode that lasted about 9 months. I finally reached a point that one day, I just couldn't get out of bed. Fortunately I was on vacation and I didn't end up blowing off work. I dragged myself to the doctors for some antidepressents. That got me going again. I started to notice that any dreams that I had which were few and far between, were nightmerish. I felt depressed even in my dreams. I also felt under pressure and as if I was in danger. I was on and off of the antidepressents for the next 3, or 4 years until my sleep apnea was discovered. I now realize that I suffered from that for quite a while before I was diagnosed. After I started C-Pap. My depression went away within weeks. I have been fine ever since and that was in 1995. So yes I do believe that sleep apnea directly contributes to depression. I can only imagine what it does to your brain chemistry fighting to stay alive night after night.
Comment by Linda Parsons on February 24, 2009 at 1:41pm
I just joined and have been reading through some of the comments and articles. I am amazed at how so many of them, could have been written by me. I have been treated for depression, among other disorders. I have been close to having a "nervous breakdown" and have just been in so much pain, that I didn't think I could get any help. I have gained so much weight lately and had almost given up. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea several years ago, and then due to a move and divorce, stopped using the machine. Of course, everything got magnified in intensity, so I was living a "poor quality" of life. I recently went through another sleep study and even though I don't show up as a severe case, it is bad enough to do plenty of damage to me. I started using my cpap again just last night, and feel a bit better today. I am praying that using it every night will get me back on the road to a normal life. I am going on to read some more articles now. Thanks.
Comment by Banyon on February 23, 2009 at 11:10am
Fernando,

I struggled for the first two years and my doctors changed my pressure a few times. Finally, I bought a machine with a data card and monitoring software. Then I self-titrated myself at home to find optimal pressure and relief settings. The doctors' pressure settings were very wrong. I changed the settings on my machine and now have a stable setting that gives me an AHI<1.0 nearly every night. The software also shows if there are any issues with mask leak. Life is so much better now.

IMO, your results at home may be very different from what the technicians saw when you slept in their lab which is a very different environment from your home and your own bed. If you decide to go the route that I went, make sure you study CPAP and how to titrate very carefully. There are very good resources on the web.

Best of luck to you,
Comment by Fernando Torija on February 23, 2009 at 10:12am
For me it's so difficult to use the CPAP after 2 or 3 hours I feel that I can't breathe, a week ago my CPAP was adjust to a higher level but still can't breathe after few hours, I'm always tired, now I'm taking Lamictal. for Bipolar Disorder,
Comment by Melba Cooper on February 19, 2009 at 12:49pm
Jenny. I am so gratified that what I wrote resonated with you....I am so glad that I have this site where I can share. I am still pinching myself that I now have real and continuous help and support to deal with this life threatening and little known condition by the medical folks that I have seen....all of whom were compassionate and caring people. Treatment can only occur out of what people are educated to know and do. I too, have a wonderful, patient and loving spouse of 38 years. Indeed that kind acceptance makes a hugh difference. I too felt suicidal at points for the same reason you stated. Intolerable way to live a life I very much wanted to live. I too, cast off my mask last night in frustsration only to put it back on a couple of hours later. I'd rather struggle with the mask...which I am sure can be resolved than fight with myself and my pillow all night!!!!! It is healing to feel understood.
Comment by jenny cannon on February 19, 2009 at 6:06am
I just happend to come across this site. I'm really glad that I joined. I have Sleep Apnea but have not used my CPAP for awhile. I just got frustrated with the mask. It's like one night it was comfortable and the next I was miserable with it. But after reading some of the posts here I realize how important it really is. And I have only read this post (depression) so far. I can relate to just about every one that has posted here. I was surprised at how many had depression, anxiety, and breakdowns. Mine unfortunately led to the loss of my job. Which intensified the depression and anxiety. My husband finally convinced me to go for a sleep evaluation. Like Melba Cooper, I had such an improvement in my health, focus, well being. I woke up with energy. No headache. Feeling truley renewed. I didn't wake my husband up during the night screaming from nightmares. Also my dreams were similar to Melba's. I had those water dreams frequently. I had nightmares of being strangled. Isn't it funny what our dreams try to tell us. Breathe! You need air! Thanks for helping me realize how important it is to wear my CPAP every night. Sleepguy you explained it very well about the "buffer". I felt like I had gone crazy. It was the worst feeling that you can imagine. I could not do simple, everyday things. Like heat a can of soup, make a sandwich. I could read words yet I could not process what the words meant. I couldn't think of words. I would lose my way driving to places that I had gone many, many times. I was so scared and felt that I was causing my family so much heartache. It reached a point that I even thought of suicide. Not that I didn't want to live, I just didn't want to live like that. I thank God that I have a husband that stood by me, took care of me when I couldn't, spoke for me when I couldn't find the words, and got me the help that I needed. It makes you wonder about how many lives that could be saved, the lives (and quality of) improved by simply being treated for Apnea. Anyway thanks again! And thanks for reading my rambling. It feels good to share that with someone that went through it too.
Comment by Mike on February 18, 2009 at 10:03pm
All these stories are so inspiring. It really makes you want to shout out to the world about diagnosis and treatment of Sleep Apnea. There is so little awareness, yet so much that needs to be done.
Comment by Melba Cooper on February 18, 2009 at 9:42pm
I am a two month user of CPAP. I have been in "recovery" and psychoanalysis for many years....I am now 62 and was diagnosed with depression 15 years ago after a "nervous breakdown" complete with ongoing panic attacks. As an artists, I have drawn and analyzed dreams, journaled, engaged in cognitive behavioral change, meditation, exercise ect. I moved to another area of the country...a smaller town with a small hospital but a prominant sleep clinic. After a rash breakout, diagnosis of hasimoto thyroditis, and continually dealing with waves of anxiety and obsessive worry, I went to an internist here. He listened to me for an hour..intently...then said...I think you have sleep apnea and I want you to be evaluated. I had no idea. I do not fit a typically physical type....tall and slim. Physically active person. My blood pressure was normal...but was experiencing rapid episodes of heart beat. Waking up with a little gasp...though not typical snoring....I thought it was bad dreams. I had a lot of underwater dreams, dreams of nets and cages under water. Also, though a swimmer....experienced some panic when doing laps. Anyway. I have moderate to severe apnea. The nurse told me..."the only med you need is AIR!. Within a few days, my focus was sharp, I was astounded at this new clear reality. The persistent companion of anxiety that had been mine for years dissolved away. Though, I still take regular ambien and am experimenting with several masks...."my love/hate relationship with them"....I am astounded and grateful. I feel that I have a new lease on life and can live my life with the vigor and aliveness that I have struggled for....it now comes easy and joyful. My husband can testify that I am a much easier and happier person to live with. Any inconvenience that CPAP may have is more than offset with a renewed and healthy life. My body pain and inflammation in joints is vitually gone, rash disappeared and I am almost up to a swim mile for my birthday. At first I felt some regret for all these years that i went struggling with undiagnosed insomnia. I thought that I had "reason" not to sleep and that I just had to get to the "bottom" of it. AIR is like a key that unlocked this puzzeling mystery of my life. Now I can more successfully and consistently use all that cognitive therapy and knowledge of myself. Does make me take a whole new interpretation of my past dream life. Now instead of dreaming of being underwater...I had a break through dream of becoming a soaring eagle with a head of light. I am very interested in sharing with others because I have found this knowledge and diagnosis to be so profound and apparently is only just trickling down to those who treat a whole range of disorders..including depression.

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