Depression symptoms may be improved by treatment with CPAP or Oral Appliance Therapy

posted Jun 8, 2016, 12:37 AM by Admin SRSAN

A couple of recent studies by Cheng and Hayley show that obstructive sleep apnea is approximately five times more common in patients with depression than in control participants  and conversely, that patients with obstructive sleep apnea are  5 times  more likely to report depression.  (Cheng et al. 2013,   Hayley et al. 2015,  Wheaton et al.  2012). 

There are several mechanisms likely to account for these findings: the sleep disruption and weight gain that are often associated with depression could cause or worsen obstructive sleep apnea; at the same time, obstructive sleep apnea could trigger or exacerbate depression by causing sleep disruption and inducing cognitive changes by intermittently starving the brain of oxygen (Povitz 2014).

Sleep apnea and depression share many common symptoms – persistent fatigue, daytime sleepiness, low vitality and concentration problems. According to Carol Lang, a University of Adelaide researcher who studies the link between sleep apnea and depression, women have more depression than men and women with obstructive sleep apnea have more severe depression symptoms (Doheny, 2015).

However, treatment with CPAP or Oral Appliance Therapy tends to result in a significant  improvement in depressive symptoms (Povitz et al. 2014). According to Povitz, the greatest improvement has been observed in those patients  with the most severe  depression - paving the way to new therapeutic modalities  for this highly prevalent condition.



Cheng, Philip, et al. "Sleep‐disordered breathing in major depressive disorder." Journal of sleep research 22.4 (2013): 459-462.

Hayley, Amie C., et al. "The relationships between insomnia, sleep apnoea and depression: findings from the American National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2008." Australian and New Zealand journal of psychiatry 49.2 (2015): 156-170.

Wheaton, Anne G., et al. "Sleep disordered breathing and depression among US adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005–2008."Sleep 35.4 (2012): 461-467.

Povitz, Marcus, et al. "Effect of treatment of obstructive sleep apnea on depressive symptoms: systematic review and meta-analysis." PLoS Med11.11 (2014): e1001762.

Doheny,  Katleen HealthDay News       Sleep apnea may boost depression risk in men.   http://www.khq.com/story/29093823/sleep-apnea-may-boost-depression-risk-in-men. May 18, 2015