Monday, July 18, 2011

Depression, weight gain and sleep apnea

When a patient presents to me with depression and an overweight problem, one of the things that I look for are symptoms of sleep apnea. Hypothyroidism is also important to think about here but we have covered this previously. (Please see label hypothyroidism in this blog).

So what is sleep apnea and how is it related to the topic of Depression?

Sleep apnea is a very common condition which is often underdiagnosed. The main symptoms and signs of sleep apnea are, tiredness, excessive daytime sleepiness, waking up unrefreshed, sleeping behind the wheel of the car, worsening of depressive symptoms, and snoring or apnea events (ie pauses in breathing) witnessed often by their partner. The most common cause is obstruction of the upper airways as the soft tissue in the upper airways collapses during sleep.  Hence, this can often be associated with the increase in soft tissue mass in the neck with overweight patients.

Sleep apnea is often made worse by alcohol due to the sedating effect, or sleeping supine ie on the back due to the gravity effect.

Diagnosis can be made by an overnight sleep study so ask your doctor about this test if you have the above symptoms.

Hope this will give you more awareness into how sleep apnea can affect to your depression.

Dr Vin
Family Doctor

1 comment:

  1. Good rest really is important to mental health! Sometimes it can be hard to know whether sleep problems are contributing to depression, the result of depression, or both... Good information!

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