Carol Lang, a scientist at the department of medicine at the University of Adelaide in Australia and one of the lead researchers, explained that men who are undiagnosed with severe obstructive sleep apnea were two times more likely to suffer from depression, compared to the male individuals who didn’t have sleep apnea.
The men who were undiagnosed with both sleep apnea and excessive daytime sleepiness were even more at risk of being depressed.
The risk of depression in these men was up to five times higher, the researchers said.
Lang explained that the study doesn’t reveal exactly why there is a connection between these two conditions.
The researcher said that most of the symptoms of sleep apnea are similar to those of depression, such as fatigue, tiredness, daytime sleepiness, poor concentration and low vitality.
Also, these two health conditions share common risk factors which are age related.
While the study doesn’t provide an answer to the cause and effect of these two conditions, Lang added that the link between sleep apnea and depression is very strong.
In order to reach these conclusions, Lang and her team analyzed about 860 men in her study.
The subjects were between the ages of 35 to 83, while the average age was 60.
The study lasted for about five years, during which all the men were evaluated for depression two times.
Also, the participants to the study were engaged in sleep lab studies in order to see whether or not they suffered from obstructive sleep apnea.
People who suffer from sleep apnea experience symptoms like short periods of time when their breathing becomes very shallow because the airway is partially blocked.
Some may even stop breathing for up to ten seconds. These symptoms can occur more than a hundred times during a night’s sleep, experts say.
The researchers say that they are not sure if the findings would apply to women since they were not included in the study.
Lang said she is planning to conduct a study on women in the near future, since women are most likely to suffer from depression, compared to men.
According to recent statistics conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, there are more than 18 million people with sleep apnea in the United States.
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