The Sleep and Depression Connection Explained (Infographic)


Sleep Disorders are at the forefront again in mental health news with a new study linking the two.


sleep and mental health infographic

Sure, you feel that catching those precious zzzzz’s is important. But getting adequate sleep can mean much more than diminishing the dark circles under your eyes and feeling a lot livelier. A new study released by the CDC within the past week suggests an apparent link between a lack of uninterrupted sleep and depression.

Here is the breakdown.

How did they do the study?

The sleeping patterns of 9,714 adults were logged from 2005 to 2008, with attention paid to frequency of snoring, gasping for air, and halted breathing. The respondents were then asked to complete a depression screener that assessed how often during the past two weeks they felt a lack of interest or desire to do things or if they felt a sense of hopelessness.

What did they find?

The sample of adults showed that sleep apnea, frequent snorting, and interrupted breathing were in fact associated with major depression regardless of weight, age, and sex. The data suggests that a man with sleep apnea is, on average, 2.4 times as likely to have symptoms of major depression as a man without sleep apnea; a woman with apnea is 5.2 times as likely.

A man who snorts or stops breathing five or more nights per week was, on average, 3.1 times as likely to have symptoms of major depression than a man without that problem, while a woman with the same issue was 3 times as likely.

The moment a person stops breathing, neurological changes triggered by inflammation or stress can occur, making sleep disruption a possible and likely cause of depression.

On a positive note, the study found that those who snore did not have a significantly increased likelihood of being depressed.

So what’s the significance?

Since Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) affects so many people, the impact of this research is not insignificant.

Furthermore, the study suggests that sleep apnea is underdiagnosed; more than 80 percent of the study participants who experienced interrupted sleep symptoms had never been formally diagnosed.It’s important to note that while the research establishes a connection between depression and interrupted sleep, it’s possible that an unidentified factor could be contributing to both sleep apnea and depression and shouldn’t be ruled out.

However, this study and further research may eventually change the way doctors approach diagnosing mental illness and sleep disorders.

Screening for these disorders together could both help doctors better establish how prevalent this connection is and also focus their recommended treatments for depression.  It’s probably no surprise that missing out on sleep can affect your mood, but if you think it has to do with more than your lifestyle habits or that it has become chronic, it could be caused by an interrupted flow of oxygen during the night. If that’s the case, you should seek medical advice.