Posted by: jedwardswright | April 10, 2012

Sleep Disorders and Depression

Most people with depression will not be surprised to hear that there is a relationship between sleep disorders and depression. Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness) are often listed as symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

Generally the inference is that depression causes sleep problems. While this is true, because the connection between the two is complicated, it is also possible that sleep disorders contribute to depression. In fact, evidence suggests that people with insomnia are ten times more likely to suffer from depression.[i]

Other sleep disorders associated with depression are Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), narcolepsy and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).[ii] A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found an association between OSA and major depression, regardless of weight, sex, age or race.[iii]

‘”Snorting, gasping or stopping breathing while asleep was associated with nearly all depressive symptoms,”’ according to Anne G. Wheaton, lead author on the study.

Proper medication has a good track record of treating Restless Legs Syndrome. OSA can usually be successfully treated. While sedating medications are only recommended for short-term use in the treatment of insomnia, tricyclic antidepressants may be helpful in relieving sleeplessness for some patients. In the case of OSA, however, sedating antidepressants could worsen the condition, so it is important to have an accurate diagnosis of the particular sleep disorder involved.[iv] Instead a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) which uses a steady mild airflow through a facemask is usually recommended for OSA.

If you suspect that a sleep disorder could be contributing to your depression, speak to your family physician about the possibility of having a sleep study done. It is a simple, non-invasive test that only requires one night out of your schedule, and it could benefit your health immensely.

[i] “Depression and Sleep,” National Sleep Foundation.

[ii] “Depression and Sleep,” National Sleep Foundation.

[iii] American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Survey Finds Association Between Symptoms Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea And Depression.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 1 Apr. 2012. Web.

10 Apr. 2012.

[iv] “Depression and Sleep,” National Sleep Foundation.



  1. I suffered from sever depression for years and was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea a year ago. I now use a CPAP every night and the quality of my sleep has improved remarkable. As a result, my mental health is more stable as well. The connection between sleep and mental health is huge. Thank you for the post.

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