Sleep apnea is a disorder where you stop breathing repeatedly at night while you try to sleep. Sleep apnea leads to sleep debt. Sleep debt has similar consequences to sleep deprivation.
My therapist and docs constantly emphasize the importance of regular, consistent sleep. Sleep apnea does not allow that. I find it very interesting that sleep apnea has been found to be very common in persons with mental disorders, including bipolar. Could it be what pushes some of us over the edge? Or is it just that we have already sought medical treatment for other reasons and we are thus more likely to discover it in ourselves? All I know is that after reviewing the below information, I knew I would not leave this unchecked. I suggest you consider whether you have it. I anticipate a life-changing result from my CPAP and will gladly update you later.
This is an excerpt from Awakening to the dangers of obstructive sleep apnea
Psychiatric disorders often are comorbid with OSA. These include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, and substance use disorder.
Depression. Several studies have documented that OSA and depressive disorder often are comorbid. Many symptoms are common to both, including fatigue, daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, irritability, and weight gain (Figure), although some core symptoms of depression (eg, sadness, anhedonia, guilt, and agitation) are clearly distinguishable from symptoms of OSA. The current recommendation is that a mood disorder should be considered secondary to OSA, and treated accordingly.5
Anxiety. OSA also has been linked to anxiety and nocturnal panic attacks. Frequent awakening due to choking from breathing cessation might play a role in the development of anxiety in patients with OSA, although the association is unproven. Studies have shown a correlation between anxiety disorders and excessive daytime sleepiness, one of the core symptoms of OSA. OSA is highly prevalent among combat veterans who have PTSD and complain of being overly vigilant at night; experiencing nightmares and frequent awakening; and having non-restorative sleep. Anecdotal reports suggest an association between OSA and bipolar disorder: namely, that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment (see “How is OSA treated?,” below) might switch depressed patients to mania.
Schizophrenia. A strong association exists between OSA and schizophrenia. In a study, OSA diagnosis was made 6 times more often in patients with schizophrenia than in patients with other psychiatric illnesses. Obesity, male sex, and chronic antipsychotic administration were risk factors for OSA in patients with schizophrenia. OSA might be underdiagnosed in patients with schizophrenia because excessive daytime sleepiness, the most common daytime symptom of OSA, can be misattributed as a negative symptom of the disease or a side effect of pharmacotherapy.
Common Side Effects:
- Loud snoring
- Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Attention problems
Untreated sleep apnea can lead to:
- Daytime fatigue and trouble focusing
- Car crashes and other accidents due to sleepiness
- High blood pressure, heart rhythm disorders, stroke, and heart attack.
- Liver disease
- Memory problems
- Weight gain
- Metabolic syndrome
- Sexual dysfunction
- Depression and other psychological conditions