Sleep Apnea and Mental Health

man dealing with sleep apnea, depression, anxiety

Is Sleep Apnea Affecting Your Mental Health?

We all become irritable when our sleep is interrupted. But when our sleep is frequently interrupted due to sleep apnea, we can suffer far more serious physical health complications and mental health issues. Our brains rely on sleep to help us heal, relax, and process our day.

When the brain is continually prevented from going through this cycle, sleep apnea patients may experience:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Impulsive behaviors

In more extreme cases, patients may also suffer from hallucinations and paranoia. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms due to sleep deprivation, contact our Bellevue office at (425) 646-6409 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Doneskey — one of Bellevue’s top sleep dentists.

Sleep Apnea and Anxiety

As mentioned before, sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in stress and possible paranoia, neither of which help with anxiety disorders. When you aren’t getting the sleep you need, your brain can struggle to process and rationalize things. This, in turn, adds excess stress and contributes even more to anxiety.

The best way to break this vicious cycle is to cut it off at the source. Treating your sleep apnea can help you achieve more restful sleep, allowing both your mind and body to heal and relax.

Sleep Apnea and Depression

Depression can make it difficult for an individual to go about their daily life. Often, a lack of sleep can produce symptoms like that of depression including lethargy and stress. This can turn into legitimate depression. The longer you go without sleep, the more significant your sleep apnea will be on your depression. Treating sleep apnea not only reduces the symptoms of depression but lowers the chance of depression altogether.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

As the seasons change and the days grow shorter and darker, many people experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as seasonal depression. This is due to the seasonal darkness, a lack of access to socialization, and time outside causing a decrease in serotonin levels produced by the brain. 

This lack of serotonin can cause sleep struggles, such as sleeping too much, or insomnia. This can exacerbate sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. The best way to maintain your sleeping health is to keep using your CPAP machine and keep to a sleep schedule. 

Sleep Apnea & Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is often a misunderstood diagnosis. It requires earnest treatment from a professional. Sadly, like any other mental health disorder, a lack of sleep or interrupted sleep can make things worse. If you’re suffering from BPD and experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea, we encourage you to seek treatment immediately and discuss the sleep difficulties with your therapist to determine any necessary treatment changes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does sleep apnea cause ADHD?
How does sleep help improve mental health?
How likely am I to develop anxiety if I have sleep apnea?
How are mental health and sleep apnea connected to relationships?
Does sleep apnea cause ADHD?

No. While researchers have not yet found a cause for ADHD, they have found that sleep apnea can make ADHD symptoms worse in some cases. Lack of sleep can affect executive function and attention span, issues ADHD patients already have to live with.

How does sleep help improve mental health?

Our brains rely on sleep to maintain proper brain function. The more sleep you get, the better your brain functions. Lack of sleep can impact people who have already been diagnosed with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. While sleep may not solve these disorders, getting enough sleep can certainly prevent them from getting worse.

How likely am I to develop anxiety if I have sleep apnea?

A 2017 study found patients with sleep apnea were more likely to have additional mental health struggles, with anxiety and panic attacks being the most common among them. Treatment for this is twofold. The first step is to treat the sleep apnea, which is where our sleep dentist comes in. The next step is to treat the anxiety. For this, we recommend talking to a qualified therapist.

How are mental health and sleep apnea connected to relationships?

Sleep apnea’s effect on relationships is often an unfortunate domino effect. Sleep apnea prevents the patient (and oftentimes the partner) from getting sufficient sleep. This creates a negative effect on both partners’ mental health and can put a strain on their relationship. 

For more information about how to help your relationship when dealing with sleep apnea, check out the information we have put together on sleep apnea and relationships.

Let Our Sleep Dentist Effectively Treat Your Sleep Apnea

If you’ve been struggling with sleep apnea in Bellevue, Kirkland, or Issaquah, WA, and you’re looking for a way to begin healing your mental health, our sleep dentist, Dr. Doneskey, would be happy to meet with you. 

We want to help you get a proper diagnosis before going over your sleep apnea treatment options with you. Please call our office at (425) 646-6409 or fill out our online contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.