Can CPAP Therapy Reduce Symptoms of Depression?

June 14, 2012 | CPAP Benefits |

There are many studies about the link between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and multiple other negative physical afflictions. These illnesses include diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. It is also a consequential link to stroke, heart attack, and, most recently, cancer.  In general, people with sleep apnea who either do not have a diagnosis or are non-compliant are at greater risk for complications related to their lack of sleep than people without sleep apnea.  Sleep deprivation has taken on new meaning in the world of medicine. Seemingly so, it is one of the core factors contributing to overall poor health.

Yet, there have been relatively few studies researching the link between lack of sleep and mental health. Lack of sleep impacts judgment, concentration, irritability, driving, energy levels, relationships, and even sexual function.  As a whole, sleep deprivation dramatically affects the overall quality of a person’s life.

People with obstructive sleep apnea typically show symptoms of depression. These include hopelessness, being anxious, fatigue, restlessness and overeating. Charles Bae, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic, and his team researched the link between CPAP therapy and depression.  They theorized that a person afflicted with sleep apnea but now compliant on CPAP therapy would show signs of mental improvement.  In conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic, nearly 800 patients filled out a standardized form. The test would assess their depressive symptoms.  It is one of the largest studies to consider the effect of CPAP therapy on depressive symptoms. It is also measured by Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ).

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After establishing compliance with CPAP therapy, patients were assessed again with the same PHQ.  The results indicated that all patients on CPAP therapy showed signs of improvement.  Patients using their CPAP machines more than four hours a night had greater score improvements than people who were less compliant.  Another interesting point from the study’s finding was that among patients treated with CPAP therapy, married patients had a greater decrease in PHQ scores compared to single or divorced patients.

As more research complies to understand the link between the importance of sleep and the overall health of a person, the evidence clearly points to CPAP therapy. Using a CPAP machine is a critical factor in reversing negative effects of sleep deprivation.  With depression being an incredibly complex and debilitating disease, the evidence suggests strongly that depressive symptoms improve in patients with sleep apnea who use a CPAP machine on a consistent basis.

Chris Vasta CPAP Expert & President at The CPAP Shop


Chris Vasta

Over a 10+ year career at PHH Mortgage managing a $100 million portfolio, Chris Vasta learned the ins and outs of the business world. He learned how to establish business relationships, lead a multi-prong team, and implement strategies for long-term growth. In 2007, Vasta used that experience to transition his role into president of The CPAP Shop. Over his tenure, Vasta has been involved in everything from website design to warehouse layout. His hands-on approach with customers has evolved into an in-depth understanding of the challenges of beginning and adhering to sleep therapy. He often provides his insights on product…