Depression Causes: Add Sleep to the List?

by Bill Brenner on August 20, 2013

Yesterday’s post on my sleep apnea diagnosis got a lot of response. Two big lessons from all the feedback: Far more people have sleep apnea than I knew, and those who have since been treated recall the huge mental distress caused by inadequate sleep.

Mood music:

Said one friend: “BIll, I too have sleep apnea. It’s a vicious, horrible physical problem. You don’t even realize how badly the lack of REM and deep sleep is changing your behavior and your emotional stability. Also impacts you physiologically in many and varied ways, including poor metabolism and blood pressure.”

I’ve attributed a lot of things to my occasional bouts of depression: past battles with addictive behavior, the OCD when I let it run hot for too long, personal experiences with illness and death and lack of daylight in the winter. I never really considered the sleep angle, though I suppose I’ve known about that all along.

Getting to the bottom of my sleep patterns started as an effort to deal with snoring and was more for Erin’s sanity than mine. (She’s a light sleeper, which means my snoring really messes with her own sleep quality.) But the benefits of this experience may turn out to be much deeper.

I’ve also gotten a lot of feedback on the usefulness of CPAP machines. A couple of readers reported that it was of little help. Many more readers said the device changed their lives.

Said another friend: “The first night I slept with the CPAP machine was the best night of sleep Iā€™d had in two decades ā€” no exaggeration.”

I’ve been told the success or failure of this depends on how accurately the sleep doctors fit me for the mask. You can bet I’ll keep that in mind when I have it done.

I thank you all for the responses. I’ll keep you posted on how the machine works.

CPAP Masks

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Igor948 August 20, 2013 at 9:22 am

After having surgeries and then a CPAP for the last 10-12 years, there is no comparison to my life prior. The lack of depression and fatigue has somewhat stifled the songwriting, but the tradeoff was worth it. Just remember, it is important to go for regular annual titrations/sleep studies to maintain the effectiveness…oh yeah…get used to paying for a checked bag since your CPAP is your new permanent carry-on bag šŸ™‚

CharonPDX August 20, 2013 at 11:20 pm

My wife was diagnosed with sleep apnea two years ago, after I noticed her sleep-breathing patterns after hearing a story on it on NPR or similar. She uses a CPAP now, with a mask like the leftmost one in your picture.

She was suffering from many different problems prior, and while a few have gotten better, it is not a cure-all. Her depression remains just as strong, and now she occasionally sleeps all day long – being able to actually SLEEP means she occasionally oversleeps by severe amounts.

But on “normal” days, the CPAP makes a world of difference.

One downside: we enjoy camping, and now we MUST have a campsite with power. (We have a battery pack that lasts one night, but any extended camping needs an improved campground.)

CharonPDX August 20, 2013 at 11:22 pm

As for the carry on, it’s a medical device – it is exempt! INSIST that the airline allow it PLUS a carry on.

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