Scientists have recently established that depression and sleep apnea can be misdiagnosed because they have similar symptoms. Recent medical experiments have proven that effectively treating sleep apnea can help patients with depression overcome their suicidal intentions.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that is affecting many U.S. and non-U.S. residents. It is characterized by abnormal breathing sessions that a person experiences during sleep. So far, there seem to be no connection between this condition and depression, but a new study claims the two can go hand in hand.
Medical experts at the University of Western Australia have many reasons to believe there is a strong connection between sleep apnea and depression. They have studied the behavior of 426 respondents, 243 men and 183 women, for a period of three months.
Depression symptoms in the two study groups have been identified with the help of the Patient Health Questionnaire. Dr. David R. Hillman, who has been in charge of the current research, has stated that most patients with sleep apnea also suffered from depression, although they had never followed a treatment for sleep disorders.
Based on the new findings, Hillman prescribed continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) to 293 patients suffering from sleep apnea to see how their condition changed after the new treatment. Only 4 percent sleep apnea patients continued to have depressive symptoms at the end of the CPAP treatment, whereas 41 participants no longer presented suicidal tendencies.
Hillman has concluded, based on his new research, that sleep apnea is often misdiagnosed for depression because patients have similar symptoms in both affections. Yet, patients with sleep apnea feel depressed because they don’t get enough sleep at night, whereas for the rest of the patients depression can have various causes.
In Hillman’s opinion, depression and sleep apnea have to be correctly diagnosed in order to have progress. He believes people’s suicidal intentions could be cured by simply treating their sleeping disorders.
The findings of the study were published in the journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
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