PTSD and Sleep Disorders

KJ Community Member February 08, 2011
  • I am a veteran who suffers from PTSD and some neurological problems. I have worked through a regimen of cognitive behavioral therapy (which helped a lot!) and took a low does of Citalopram for depression until relatively recently.

     

    Several weeks ago I underwent a sleep study with the Veterans Administration to test for sleep apnea. This is the second time I've taken this test and I've already been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, but my doc wanted me to do it again. Yesterday I got my results and a slightly new diagnosis. I am now diagnosed with moderate to severe sleep apnea and periodic limb movement disorder. (PLMD means my leg twitches and I kick at regular intervals through the night. The cause is not known.)

     

    I told you that to tell you this - my doctor says that sleep apnea can make the symptoms of PTSD significantly worse. If I understand correctly, when the sleep apnea kicks in I stop breathing for a time. That creates a panic response in the brain, triggering nightmares and panic attacks. This is all new to me, but I've since read some things on-line to back it up.

     

    I wanted to share this in case there is anyone else out there who suffers from both PTSD and sleep disorders. There is increasing research suggesting that taking care of the sleep problems will have a very positive effect on the PTSD symptoms.

3 Comments
  • Merely Me
    Health Guide
    Feb. 09, 2011

    Helo KJ

     

    I am glad you has this study done.  I did not know this about PTSD.  I have heard that sleep apnea can exacerbate the symptoms of pretty much any disorder...I have definitely heard about a connection with ADHD...but this is new with PTSD.

     

    The movements in your sleep...is that restless leg syndrome or something different?

     ...

    RHMLucky777

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    Helo KJ

     

    I am glad you has this study done.  I did not know this about PTSD.  I have heard that sleep apnea can exacerbate the symptoms of pretty much any disorder...I have definitely heard about a connection with ADHD...but this is new with PTSD.

     

    The movements in your sleep...is that restless leg syndrome or something different?

     

    So what are they suggesting you do about this?

     

    Thank you so much for talking about this.  I am sure many of our folk will be interested.  How are you doing overall?  How is your mood?

    • KJ
      KJ
      Feb. 13, 2011

      Hi MerelyMe,

       

      I thought this was really interesting too. I knew I had sleep apnea but the last study showed it was "mild to moderate" and this time it came back as "moderate to severe". The doctor is a pulmonary specialist but is really sharp and tried to make a connection between the sleep apnea and leg movement with my neuro issues and PTSD. He...

      RHMLucky777

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      Hi MerelyMe,

       

      I thought this was really interesting too. I knew I had sleep apnea but the last study showed it was "mild to moderate" and this time it came back as "moderate to severe". The doctor is a pulmonary specialist but is really sharp and tried to make a connection between the sleep apnea and leg movement with my neuro issues and PTSD. He brought up the link with the PTSD and says this is a really serious complicating factor in my case. He couldn't come up with much connection between the leg movement and the neurological problems though.

       

      This leg twitch is something that my wife has noticed for a long time and was brought up at the previous sleep study. The reason for it it not known, but it is not the same as restless leg syndrome. Restless leg syndrome occurs mostly when people are awake. They have the feeling that the have to shake their legs or feet to get relief. Mine is a nighttime occurance that I can't control and I'm usually not aware of (unless it wakes me up). I wish it could be linked to the other nerological symptoms, but it can't at this point. It can't even be connected to the essential tremor that I have.

       

      My mood is good lately. The cognitive behavior therapy that I went through was just right for my way of thinking. It was a good way for me to address the PTSD symptoms and feel more in control of things. It was the feeling of being out of control of my feelings and senses related to the PTSD that made me most "down". I still have panic attacks at night and anxiety when I wake up, so the connection to sleep apnea is interesting. I was also having severe cognitive problems about two years ago (has it been that long?) that were very troubling. I think that was a result of the neurological problems (white matter brain disease [MS?]) that I was being diagnosed with at the time. That took me to my lowest point about last May or thereabouts.

       

      Thanks for asking.

       

  • Judy
    Feb. 08, 2011

    Hi, KJ.  Wow, I've never heard about this before, so I find it very interesting.  I got tested for it about six years ago and had a mild case of it, but after losing a bunch of weight, the problem went away.  I know people who feel so much better using the C-Pap machine.  I tried it for a while but didn't notice any difference in how...

    RHMLucky777

    Read More

    Hi, KJ.  Wow, I've never heard about this before, so I find it very interesting.  I got tested for it about six years ago and had a mild case of it, but after losing a bunch of weight, the problem went away.  I know people who feel so much better using the C-Pap machine.  I tried it for a while but didn't notice any difference in how I felt, plus the kind I had was very noisy and it was hard to get used to it.

     

    Thanks for sharing this info - I'm sure it will be interesting to a lot of people.