Treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may help reduce depressive symptoms, according to data from the international multicenter SAVE (Sleep Apnea CardioVascular Endpoints) trial, which included 2,410 OSA patients who also had cardiovascular disease. They were assigned to either CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure, the standard treatment for OSA) plus usual care or usual care alone (control group) for about four years.
As reported in EClinicalMedicine, published by The Lancet, use of CPAP reduced the cases of depression by 20 percent, as assessed at baseline and regularly over the course of the study, independent of improvements in daytime sleepiness. The effects were apparent within a few months of starting treatment and were greater in those with pre-existing depression symptoms.
A review of other randomized trials done by the researchers and reported in the same paper (involving more than 4,200 people with OSA) further supported the depression-reducing effects of CPAP. There is a strong relationship between sleep problems and depression, as well as between cardiovascular events and depression.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.