Think about it: How scary is the idea that you or a loved one stops breathing on numerous occasions throughout the night? Ceasing to breathe might cause you to feel as though you are suffocating. It would be totally understandably that you might feel anxious. So then the $64,000 question is: Can sleep apnea cause anxiety? Or might the question be more accurate in the reverse: Can anxiety cause sleep apnea?
Sleep Apnea Defined
Sleep apnea for the majority of sufferers is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is characterized by pauses in breathing while asleep due to an airway obstruction. The number of instances where breathing stops in any given night can be from 5 to upward of 30 times per hour. These pauses can last a few seconds to as long as minutes. Unfortunately, for the majority of individuals, they are not even aware that they have this condition. Some of the symptoms that are associated with OSA are the following:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Mood changes
- Poor concentration
- Decline in memory
Close to 80 percent of sleep apnea sufferers are not diagnosed and untreated, which places them at risk for a host of life-threatening illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But what about anxiety?
When people suffer from true anxiety, there can be quite a number of medical issues that develop as a result. Anxiety can cause the follow to occur:
- Panic attacks (even at night)
- Teeth grinding
- Compulsive eating
- Muscular contraction/tension
Most experts believe that anxiety does not cause sleep apnea. However, with untreated sleep apnea, the individual is sleep deprived and sufficient amounts of oxygen are not going to the brain. The person is in a constant struggle to adequately breathe at night, which puts stress on the body and mind. In addition, there is a theory that due to the effect that sleep apnea has on the heart, it can trigger a rise in blood pressure resulting in a panic or anxiety attack.
Can Reducing Stress Help?
The first step in stopping the cycle of anxiety is to get properly diagnosed. You or a loved one needs to find out whether or not sleep apnea is present. If the answer is yes, treatment is available. In the meantime, lifestyle modifications such as losing weight, following proper sleep hygiene and consistent times for going to sleep and waking up can help you.
If you suspect you might have sleep apnea or been diagnosed and would like to find out what individualized treatment option might be available for you, contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.