People with sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that causes frequent sleep disturbances, often feel tired and unfocused during the day. But that may not be the only fallout: New research suggests the disorder also dramatically increases the risk of depression.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that men with diagnosed sleep apnea are more than twice as likely as other men to exhibit signs of clinical depression, such as feeling hopeless and uninterested in everyday activities. The picture was even worse among women: A sleep apnea diagnosis increased the risk of depression symptoms fivefold.
What’s more, the study suggests that sleep apnea is underdiagnosed. More than 80% of the people who reported classic symptoms such as snorting or gasping for breath on most nights of the week had never received an official diagnosis. This group, too, had a threefold higher risk of depression compared to people who had no trouble breathing at night.
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