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Depression may be linked to sleep apnea

Patients With Depressive Symptoms Might Have Sleep Apnea

When a doctor at a Florida sleep clinic began to notice that an unusually high number of his patients were taking antidepressants, he figured something was up.

Daniel J. Schwartz, M.D., of the Tampa Sleep Center recently reported on a study in which 41 out of 50 patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) had symptoms of depression. Subjects were treated with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP); a device worn during sleep that supplies a stream of air through a small mask secured over the nose.

As reported in the medical journal Chest, CPAP treatment successfully addressed sleep apnea and significantly improved depression scores.

Dr. Schwartz told Reuters Health that doctors should be aware that patients with depressive symptoms might have sleep apnea. Diagnosis of this condition is often missed because many people regard chronic snoring (the primary symptom) as an annoyance but not necessarily a health risk.

A 2004 study found that men who suffer from OSA are five times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, regardless of their age, body mass index, blood pressure or smoking habits.

For more information about sleep apnea and the newest advance in treatment, see the e-Alert “Sleep Thief” (10/13/05). You can find this and hundreds of other e-Alerts in our archives at

“Treating Sleep-Breathing Problem May Ease Blues” Anthony J. Brown, M.D., Reuters Health, 9/12/05,