Doctors have long known that certain diseases and conditions make their patients vulnerable to mental illness. Experts on mental health in Singapore continue to see links between problems like sleep apnea and various mental disorders, including depression and anxiety.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes the patient to stop breathing for at least 10 seconds while sleeping. There are three specific types of sleep apnea.

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), in which the patient stops breathing even though his body may be physically trying to breathe
  • Central Apnea, in which gases aren’t exchanged and no respiratory efforts are detectable
  • Mixed Apnea, a combination of obstructive and central types

The Effect of Apnea on Sleep Patterns

People who suffer from sleep apnea may be abnormally sleepy during the day, because they aren’t getting the right kind of rest at night. Other patients may actually wake up periodically at night with a panicky feeling, caused by the inability to breathe just moments before. Sometimes, apnea can cause insomnia, as the body and brain are anxious about shutting down for fear of the cessation of breathing.

The Link to Depression

Any interruption in normal sleep patterns can increase a person’s susceptibility to mental issues, such as anxiety or depression. According to psychiatrists in Singapore and elsewhere, there appears to be a link between the development of sleep apnea and the later development of anxiety, panic, and depressive disorders. The lack of sleep interferes with the brain’s chemical balance, slows down its normal function, and creates a vulnerability for mental distress.

Causes of Sleep Apnea

In many cases, the sleep apnea sufferers are men above age 50. Nearly all of them have snored loudly throughout their lifetime, possibly indicating some issues with the airways and nasal passages. When the sleep apnea symptoms appear, spouses or partners report that the apnea patient stops breathing for a frightening length of time, then starts breathing again with a snort, gasp, or choking sound as he struggles for air. Examinations revealed that abnormalities of the uvula, tongue, mandible, palate, or tonsils and adenoids are often present in cases of obstructive sleep apnea.

Help for Depressed or Anxious Apnea Patients

Doctors may use antidepressants during the course of treatment for sleep apnea, as well as other medications that stimulate respiration. If you are becoming depressed or anxious because of a lack of sleep due to apnea, visit the Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic. Our Singapore psychiatrists can work with your doctor to improve your mental health as well as your physical well-being.

Sleep apnea can be nerve-wracking for a spouse or partner who sleeps next to the patient. Hearing that cessation of breathing, followed by the gasps for air, is enough to make anyone anxious and panicky. If your loved one is struggling to cope with your sleep apnea, encourage him or her to visit the Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic, where we can offer counselling and help until the apnea issue is resolved.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: National Sleep Foundation