In a new study, scientists have found a strong link between severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and heightened risk of depression in men. Lead author Carol Lang, PhD, from the University of Adelaide, Australia, said their study, in a large community-based sample of men, confirmed a strong relationship even after adjustment for a number of other potential risk factors.

The study involved 1875 men aged between the ages of 35 and 83 who were assessed for depression at two time points over a five-year period.

After adjustment for potential confounders, previously undiagnosed severe OSA was associated with an increased prevalence of depression, as was excessive daytime sleepiness. Men who had both previously undiagnosed and excessive daytime sleepiness had 4 to 5 times greater odds of having depression than men without either condition. Both previously diagnosed OSA and previously undiagnosed severe OSA were significantly associated with recent development of depression.

Lang said that excessive daytime sleepiness and severe OSA were both associated with the prevalence and recent onset of depression in our community-based sample of men, and the presence of both was associated with an even greater risk. The study was presented at the 2015 American Thoracic Society International Conference.

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