Sleep Apnea Reduces Effectiveness of Antidepressants


In one of the first conclusive studies covering major depressive disorder (MDD) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it was found that sleep apnea may decrease the effectiveness of antidepressants. In a study of over 400 patients, it was found that people with both MDD and OSA were 1.5 times less likely to respond to 12 weeks of antidepressant treatment. The effect is specifically pronounced in geriatric patients. Treatment of OSA can improve the effectiveness of antidepressants.

Another study assessing the two conditions, MDD and OSA, showed that people with MDD and several factors that many OSA patients have were likely to see a decrease in their cognitive performance. Both of these studies once again confirm that untreated or undiagnosed sleep apnea is not good to have.

If a person with depression has undiagnosed sleep apnea, they are taking a medication they believe will be effective after a period of four to twelve weeks. Antidepressants take several weeks to alter the balance of the brain for the better. If a person suffering MDD believes they are getting treatment which is later found to be ineffective, it may set them back by several weeks in a situation where their mental health is tenuous at best.

The result of these two studies left people in the field of sleep medicine with two main conclusions. The findings were summed up by Dr. Ike Ahmed a clinical professor of psychiatry and geriatric medicine at the University of Hawaii, who says, “Both studies show that it’s not a good thing to have sleep apnea. One showed that it may influence response to antidepressants, and the other that it may block improvement in cognition – even if there is some improvement in mood.”

Once again, a study has revealed to us that comorbid conditions can dramatically impact one another and even pronounce the effects they cause to the body. When a medical professional treats depression, it is important to also rule out other health conditions which could pronounce the symptoms of the depression. If you are currently taking an antidepressant, be sure your doctor has ruled out conditions like OSA.

If you suspect you or someone you love suffers from sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with FusionSleep today. Their doctors are always available to diagnose and treat any sleep disorders, including sleep apnea.