Understanding Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Depression

Last updated: September 12th, 2023

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. This happens when the airway collapses, making it difficult for air to travel to the lungs. As a result, the person usually experiences pauses in their breathing patterns and reduced oxygen levels during the night. Those with sleep apnea tend to also exhibit an increase in cardiovascular disease, stroke, and even depression.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Common signs and symptoms associated with sleep apnea include loud snoring, choking or gasping during sleep, dry mouth, sore throat, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Waking up frequently at night is also a telltale sign of sleep apnea. People suffering from this condition may not be aware that they are dealing with a significant sleep disorder. For them, it can be just a regular night of poor sleep or difficulty in focusing during the day.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, it is important to see a doctor and have the condition properly diagnosed. Your doctor will be able to provide treatments for your sleep apnea, with the most common method being the use of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. This device helps keep the soft tissues from collapsing around your airway, allowing for more oxygen to move freely in the body. Other treatments may include surgery, oral appliances, sleep position trainers, and lifestyle changes.

Depression and Sleep Apnea

As mentioned previously, clinical depression and sleep apnea are often linked. Recent studies have shown that those with diagnosed depression are five times more likely to develop sleep apnea than those with no depression. It’s still unclear as to which disorder comes first, the depression or the sleep apnea. What we know for sure is that both issues can significantly impact one’s life in negative ways.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Sleep Apnea

Making healthy lifestyle changes can help to manage sleep apnea. Some of the things you can do to reduce your sleep apnea include: maintaining a healthy weight; avoiding alcohol and caffeine late in the evening; quit smoking; and avoiding sleeping on your back. In addition to these changes, it is also important to get enough sleep, usually eight hours or more, on a regular basis. It is important to talk to a doctor if you are still struggling with sleep apnea after making these lifestyle changes.


Sleep apnea is a very serious sleep disorder that can disrupt your overall health. By understanding the causes of sleep apnea and making healthy lifestyle changes, you can better manage this condition. In some cases, a doctor may consider surgical options to help reduce sleep apnea symptoms. In addition, we have seen a strong correlation between depression and sleep apnea. If you think you may have sleep apnea, it is important to speak with a doctor about the best way to manage it.

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