Winter depression concept Sad young woman with seasonal affective disorder or depression sitting alone in her bed

Is There A Relationship Between Sleep Disorders and Depression?

One out of every five Canadians lives with a mental illness or experiences a mental health problem every single year.

If you’ve experienced a mental health crisis, you know how scary and debilitating it can be. You also probably know how frustrating it is when you don’t know why you feel a certain way.

Millions of dollars have been spent researching mental health trying to determine the “why.” The answer?

It depends.

Mental health is complex. Possible causes or contributors of mental illness can include things like faulty mood regulation in your brain, stressful life events, and medical conditions or medications. Many of those factors are things you need to address with your doctor.

Another contributing factor that can lead to or exacerbate depression is something that is less talked about: poor sleep.

How does poor sleep affect my mental health?

Do you have trouble sleeping because you have depression or do you have depression because you can’t sleep? It’s hard to tell which concern came first, but some medical professionals believe that the sleep disorder may be a cause of the mental illness.

Looking at it from a dentist’s perspective, having narrowed jaws and dental crowding prevents proper breathing at night while sleeping. This leads to you having a poor sleep. The results of this are more severe than having undereye bags or needing an extra cup of coffee in the morning. It can lead to weight gain, which narrows your throat even more and further reduces the quality of your sleep.

Why can’t I get a good night’s sleep?

If you’ve tried everything you can think of to get a restful sleep and nothing is helping, you may have obstructive sleep apnea.

The amount of people who go undiagnosed is staggeringly high (roughly 80%) because most patients haven’t had a sleep study done. This number alone should mean that sleep apnea is checked for as often as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. When it comes to the correlation between sleep apnea and depression, these numbers prove that doctors are diagnosing the immediate problem but not investigating what could be the underlying cause.

How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

If you suspect that you have obstructive sleep apnea, make an appointment with your physician. Once you explain your symptoms, they may refer you for a sleep study either in a sleep laboratory or your home. If you choose to do it at home, you will be lent a device for two nights to monitor your sleeping patterns.

If you have more questions about sleep apnea and the risks to not only your sleep, but to your overall health, reach out to Dr. Andrea Stevens.

If you’re currently experiencing a mental health crisis, there is help. This link has many mental health support resources. If you’re in immediate danger or thinking of harming yourself, please call 911.

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