This study, conducted by the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, and published in the journal Sleep, analyzed nearly 10,000 American adults. Researchers found that the likelihood of depression in study participants increased along with the self-reported rate of gasping and stopping breathing while sleeping. The study concluded:
“Frequent snorting/stopping breathing was associated with probable major depression by the PHQ-9 in a national sample of adults. Additional research may be needed to determine whether regular screening for these conditions by mental health professionals and sleep specialists should be recommended.”
About 6 percent of men and 3 percent of women enrolled in the study reported having been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. Otherwise, participants had not been diagnosed with the disorder, but described symptoms of gasping, snorting, restlessness while sleeping and daytime fatigue.
“Mental health professionals often ask patients with depression about their sleeping habits, and there is a known link between depression and insomnia, but less about depression and this specific sleep disorder,” said study leader Anne Wheaton.
“While there have been small studies with smaller study populations that have examined the link in the past, this is the first study to look at the link between sleep apnea and depression in the general population”, said Wheaton. Cells need oxygen to “perform whatever tasks there are for the brain to perform and if they’re not getting enough, a person’s physical and mental health seems to suffer.”