Sleep apnea is among the many conditions that can contribute to depression, such as TMD and tinnitus. Now a new study says that treating sleep apnea leads to an improvement in depression as well. The study is notable because it’s a meta-study looking at nearly two dozen previous studies, and it showed that both CPAP and oral appliances are effective at reducing depression symptoms.
A Large Meta-Analysis
This new meta-study compiles results from 22 studies relevant to the impact of sleep apnea treatment on depression. Most of the studies, 19, looked at the effectiveness of CPAP, but there were five studies that looked at oral appliances, with two studies that used both. Results showed that both treatments led to improvement in depression symptoms.
Researchers said that CPAP results were less consistent. Though all showed some improvement, some showed much more improvement than others. This was attributed in part to the wide disparity in design among the many studies. Not only did the studies differ in their size (from 23 to 391 participants) and length (from 1 to 24 weeks), they also varied in the depression scales they used. Researchers note that none of the depression scales used have been validated for people with sleep apnea. Oral appliances were more consistent in their results, but the difference was smaller.
This is an important study because it proves again that both CPAP and oral appliances provide effective sleep apnea treatment, and that many sleep apnea symptoms resolve with treatment.
The studies compiled for this meta-analysis were published by August 15, 2014.
Is Sleep Apnea behind Your Depression?
Depression is a common comorbidity with sleep apnea. In fact, people with depression are more than five times more likely to have sleep apnea than the general population. This suggests that people with depression should talk to their doctor about sleep apnea and schedule a sleep test, especially if they also have snoring. It must be noted that although the above study shows that sleep apnea treatment improves depression symptoms, none of the studies compared sleep apnea treatment to depression treatment, so we can’t say whether sleep apnea treatment actually serves as a standalone treatment for depression. But we do know it will help.