(HealthDay News) – Sleep apnea and frequent snorting/stopping breathing during sleep, but not snoring, are associated with probable major depression, according to a study published in the April issue of SLEEP.

Anne G. Wheaton, PhD, of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from 9,714 adult participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005–2008. Depression was assessed using the nine-item depression scale of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). Symptom-associated probable major depression was defined as a PHQ-9 score ≥10.

The researchers found that 6% of men reported physician-diagnosed sleep apnea, 37.2% snored at least five nights/week, 7.1% snorted/stopped breathing at least five nights/week, and 5% had PHQ-9 scores ≥10. The corresponding figures for women were 3.1%, 22.4%, 4.3%, and 8.4%. There was a significant association between sleep apnea and probable major depression (odds ratio [OR], 2.4 among men and 5.2 among women). There was no association between snoring and depression in men or women. Those who snorted/stopping breathing at least five nights/week, compared to never, had increased likelihood of probable major depression (OR, 3.1 for men and 3 for women).

“Snorting, gasping or stopping breathing while asleep was associated with nearly all depression symptoms, including feeling hopeless and feeling like a failure,” Wheaton said in a statement. “We expected persons with sleep-disordered breathing to report trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, or feeling tired and having little energy, but not the other symptoms.”

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