The Links Between Sleep Apnea and Mental Health
That’s why mental health surveys such as the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Profile of Mood States (POMS), and the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) all contain questions relating to sleep symptoms. These reasons make it especially important to get an accurate diagnosis for your sleep apnea. Learning more about the potential comorbidities and shared symptoms between mental health and sleep disorders will help you make an informed decision when seeking professional care for your sleep apnea symptoms.
What Is Comorbidity?
Scientists use the term comorbidity to describe a situation where two or more disorders or illnesses occur simultaneously in the same person. For patients with comorbid conditions, it’s usually difficult to find the underlying cause of a particular symptom because both conditions can present many of the same symptoms. It can get even more complicated because the interaction between the illnesses can worsen both conditions.
This is why it’s so important to receive an accurate diagnosis for sleep apnea. An accurate diagnosis can help you identify the root cause and seek proper treatment for your symptoms. Fortunately, our sleep dentist, Dr. Birth, can make sure you get an accurate diagnosis.
Disorders That Are Comorbid With Sleep Apnea
There are several mental disorders that are comorbid with sleep apnea, making them even more difficult to treat:
Depression — A study conducted for the Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice demonstrates significant overlap between depression and rates of OSA. Treating patients who suffer from both sleep apnea and depression is especially challenging because the two conditions share so many symptoms. These include:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Poor concentration
- Weight gain
Anxiety and PTSD — In a study conducted for the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, over 50 percent of participants with sleep apnea displayed signs of anxiety and over 66 percent of those participants had severe obstructive sleep apnea.
In a study of young veterans with PTSD conducted for the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the results indicated that over 69 percent of participants screened as high risk for OSA. Fortunately, getting treatment has been proven to help. Studies conducted for the Sleep Foundation found that CPAP treatment for individuals with PTSD reduced nightmare rates and by extension psychological distress like anxiety by over 50 percent.
A meta analysis for the Journal of Affective Disorders found that over 15 percent of participants with schizophrenia had obstructive sleep apnea. A study conducted for the PrimaryCare Companion for CNS Disorders, found that over 16 percent of participants with bipolar disorder also had OSA.
Common symptoms shared between schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and sleep apnea include:
- Weight gain
- Impaired decision making
- Loss of interest
As with other comorbid conditions, these symptoms can increase each other’s severity and further decrease quality of life.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) — Sleep apnea in children is frequently misdiagnosed as ADHD, causing a great deal of hardship and confusion for kids and their parents.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea Improves Mental Health
While treating sleep apnea can’t cure mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, a good night’s rest can often make these symptoms easier to manage and drastically improve your quality of life and your life expectancy. For these reasons, seeking help from a trained professional like Dr. Birth is vital.
If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, contact our office in Fort Worth, TX, to schedule a consultation with our sleep dentist, Dr. Birth. Dial (817) 502-9103 or submit the contact form at the bottom of the page today. With sleep apnea solutions from Dr. Birth, you can get the sleep you need to change your mental health for the better.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is sleep apnea a mental illness?
Plus, many mental health issues have similar symptoms to sleep apnea, and the effects of one can worsen the other. That’s why it’s crucial to find treatment after your sleep apnea diagnosis.
Does sleep apnea cause anxiety?
We recommend scheduling a sleep study if you’re experiencing the shared symptoms of anxiety and sleep apnea. Professional observation allows a specialist to examine your nighttime symptoms and distinguish between a sleep disorder and conditions like anxiety.