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Obstructive Sleep Apnea May Be Linked to Depression

FRIDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- There appears to be a link between the common sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea and major depression, a new study suggests.

In people with obstructive sleep apnea, soft tissue in the back of the throat blocks the upper airway during sleep. This results in pauses in breathing and other sleep symptoms such as snorting, gasping and snoring.

In the new study, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers surveyed about 9,700 American adults and found that 6 percent of the men and 3 percent of the women said they had been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.

The CDC team found that symptoms of the sleep disorder were associated with many depression symptoms, including feeling like a failure and feeling hopeless. This association was not affected by factors such as weight, age, sex or race, they noted.

There was no link noted between regular snoring and depression, however, the researchers pointed out in the report, published in the April issue of the journal Sleep.

"We expected persons with sleep-disordered breathing to report trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, or feeling tired and having little energy, but not the other symptoms," such as hopelessness, lead study author Anne Wheaton, a CDC epidemiologist, said in a news release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Although the study uncovered an association between obstructive sleep apnea and depression, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about sleep apnea.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, March 30, 2012

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