Can Sleep Apnea Contribute to Depression? A Sleep Dentist Answers

October 15, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Buck @ 1:20 am

Statistics show that over 22 million Americans are suffering from some form of sleep apnea, which refers to reoccurring lapses in breathing while sleeping. The most common type of sleep breathing disorder, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can lead to a host of problems, one of which is depression. What’s the connection, and how can your dentist help you to recover from sleep apnea in Dublin? Find out the answers as you continue reading.

What is OSA?

The term obstructive sleep apnea refers to a partial blockage of the airway while sleeping that impedes the normal flow of oxygen. This can be brought on by the following factors:

  • Weight gain
  • Enlarged tongue
  • Jaw malformation
  • Floppy throat muscles
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids

The most recognizable warning sign of OSA is loud snoring, which can be caused by any of the above-listed issues.

The Connection Between OSA and Depression

Various studies have shown a link between sleep loss and depression. For some patients, the symptoms of sleep deprivation and depression can be experienced concurrently, while others may deal with a melancholy mood after they’ve been deprived of sleep for a period of time.  

According to the medical journal, Sleep, insomnia linked to OSA has a significant correlation to depression. The results of more recent studies were published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, showing that 46% of the test group with sleep apnea also showed signs of depression. These findings provide further evidence of a connection between OSA and depression, which opens a new avenue for treatment possibilities.

How Can OSA be Treated?

The first step to treating OSA is to be properly diagnosed. This starts with finding a sleep physician to be tested. If there is a positive diagnosis, here are two of the more common treatment options:

  • CPAP Machine – The most common form of treating sleep apnea, the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine consists of three parts: a base unit, tube and mask that work together to force air into your throat while you sleep.
  • Custom Oral Appliance – For eligible patients, the most convenient option is for a sleep dentist to custom-craft an oral appliance, which comfortably shifts the jaw forward to keep your airway open while you sleep.
  • Mixed Treatment – In some cases, a specialist may recommend the combined therapy of a CPAP machine and an oral appliance to ensure the best results.

While treating depression can be difficult, the new data about the connection between sleep deprivation and mental health is quite promising. That’s because with proper care, sleep apnea can be controlled, which can lead to better mental clarity and overall health.

About the Author

Dr. Eric Buck earned his dental degree from The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. He has since gone on to specialize in treating sleep apnea. To ensure he can continue to provide the safest and most effective care, he maintains professional affiliation with the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Dr. Buck helps patients rest better at Distinctive Smiles of Dublin, and he can be reached for more information through his website.