Many people think that a lack of sleep is not serious and only a mild disruption in their daily life. Studies suggest that lack of sleep affects you mentally and physically, causing you to be irritable or sleepy during normal waking hours.

Poor sleep can make you feel fatigued, slow your reaction time, and cause weight gain. When your body and mind are tired, mood swings and symptoms of depression are likely to occur. What many people don’t know is that sleep apnea is often the culprit.

woman wide awake in the middle of the night in a blue room

When does “being in the dumps” turn into depression?

Losing sleep is a major cause of accidents and injuries at work. On top of that, lack of sleep can have a negative effect on our emotions and can cause depression. Being depressed is a mood disorder that makes you feel sad, helpless, and alone. Most of us feel sad and down at times and that’s normal but when you’re sad and down for a long time, depressed feelings can prevent you from living a positive, happy life.

When you lose sleep you often feel irritated, tired, tense, and negative.

Symptoms that may indicate that your sleeplessness is causing depression are:

  • having little enjoyment in things that were once fun and pleasurable
  • having little energy
  • difficulty in making decisions or concentrating
  • changes in your appetite
  • a decrease or increase in the need for sleep.

Depression can be treated

There are lots of things you can do to treat your symptoms of depression. Antidepressants such as Zoloft or Prozac, talking with a psychologist or psychiatrist, counseling, and meditation can all help. But, if your depression is caused by a breathing-related sleep disorder, a key ingredient in your recovery is better sleep. Your San Jose/Los Gatos dentist can help you if snoring or sleep apnea is stopping you from getting the sleep you need.

The Link Between Depression and Lack of Sleep

Sleep deprivation and depression often go hand in hand. For starters, sleep deprivation can have serious effects on your mental health. Chronic sleep problems affect nearly 50 to 80% of patients who visit a common psychiatric practice. Although the connection between sleep and mental health is not yet known, studies suggest that sleep is important for fostering emotional and mental resilience. When sleep-deprived, people are more likely to experience more emotional vulnerability and negative thinking.

Sleep is important for restoring both the body and the brain and when someone experiences either disrupted sleep or not the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, it can have harmful effects on mental health. For example, those who suffer from insomnia are 10 times more likely to suffer from depression and 17 times more likely to suffer from anxiety. The less sleep one gets, the more likely they will suffer from a mental health disorder.

So what’s preventing patients from getting enough sleep? One of the conditions that can cause you to have disrupted sleep is sleep apnea and it often goes undiagnosed. There are many instances where patients seek help for their mental illnesses but not the underlying cause of them. Without sleep apnea treatment, depression and anxiety disorders might not improve as much as they should.

What is sleep apnea and how does it affect your mind and body?

Sleep apnea occurs while you sleep; often brought to your attention by someone close to you. Most likely you have been told you snore like a freight train or you stop breathing for a few seconds; maybe you do both.

When you are asleep, your body relaxes; as a result, the soft tissues at the back of your mouth also relax, causing them to obstruct the airways. This causes a decrease in oxygen flow to your brain; the brain signals your body to wake briefly to tighten those tissues and open the airway. Snoring and pauses in your breathing during sleep are common symptoms of sleep apnea. These disruptions in sleep prevent you from achieving a good night’s sleep. Without enough sleep your body essentially wears out, you may become irritable and develop symptoms similar to those of depression.

Studies have shown sleep apnea may be a reason anti-depressant treatments sometimes fail. Sleep apnea may cause depressed moods, fatigue, and tiredness. Depression and sleep apnea share similar symptoms, one can affect the severity of the other and make it difficult to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Get Back to Healthy Sleep

People who snore or have sleep apnea often don’t realize they have a problem unless someone tells them. They’re asleep after all! If you’d like to find out if snoring or sleep apnea might be causing your fatigue and depression, take my on-line sleep disorder questionnaire. Who doesn’t want to sleep well and wake up refreshed?

By finding the cause of your depression, you’ll be able to get the treatment you need to recover.

If you have tried various depression and sleep apnea treatments with no success, consider visiting your dentist about specialized sleep disorder dentistry.

Exploring various treatment options with your dentist could be the answer. Today’s advanced technology opens new doors in treatments related to sleep disorders. Common symptoms shared by depression and sleep apnea may be alleviated with a personalized treatment plan developed by your dentist.

Please call (408) 354-5600 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nehawandian today.