Sleep Apnea Increases Risk of Depression in Men

A new study out of Australia indicates men with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are at a significantly increased risk of experiencing depression.

sleep-55792_640As Carol J. Lang, PhD, of the University of Adelaide reported at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society, the Men Androgen Inflammation Lifestyle Environment & Stress Study (MAILES) showed previously undiagnosed severe OSA was notably associated with depression among 1,875 men ages 35 to 83.

For the study, the men were assessed for depression at two points approximately 5 years apart and the correlation was still present after adjusting for age, waist circumference, smoking, relationship status, financial difficulties, erectile dysfunction, and nocturia.

“Depression is highly prevalent in OSA, reaching 39% in clinic studies. However, few population-based studies have been done and results have been mixed,” Lang said.

One past study of 1,400 men and women found a 2.6-fold increased risk of depression with severe sleep-related breathing disorders.

The researchers noted a common symptom of OSA is excessive daytime sleepiness though this symptom is not experienced by all patients and the team could not say whether daytime sleepiness is also associate with depression in OSA.

The team assessed individuals using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale/Beck’s Depression Inventory and daytime sleepiness was evaluated with the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. For the purpose of the study, OSA was defined as an apnea-hypopnea above 10.

In one model which included both previously undiagnosed OSA and excessive daytime sleepiness, individuals with both had 4.2 times greater risk of experiencing depression compared to control individuals, and a 3.5 times greater risk of depression with only one of the conditions.

“The message is that clinicians need to be aware of these risks and assess for the other if one is present,” Lang said.

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