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Depressed? It Could Be Due To Sleep Apnea


Snore. Snort. Gasp. Repeat.

That's basically what happens to people with sleep apnea. Their breathing while they sleep is briefly stopped -- lasting seconds to a minute -- which contributes to snoring, daytime fatigue, inability to concentrate, restless sleep and, according to a new federal study, major depression.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed nearly 10,000 American adults. The study, published in the journal Sleep, found that the more frequently people snort or gasp for breath while asleep, the more likely they are to have symptoms of depression.

Among those diagnosed with sleep apnea, depression was more than twice as common among men and more than five times as common among women, compared with those who did not have the condition, the New York Times reported.

Researchers also found that those who weren't diagnosed with sleep apnea, but whose partners reported that they snorted or stopped breathing five or more nights a week, were also significantly more likely to have depression. Men were almost four times as likely to suffer depression and women were more than twice as likely to be depressed, compared with those who never had the symptoms.

Study author Anne Wheaton, an epidemiologist with CDC, said the lack of oxygen to brain cells from sleep apnea might adversely affect people's mental health. Disrupted sleep could also add to the effects.

"When a person stops breathing like this, they are momentarily brought out of deeper levels of sleep," Wheaton told ABC News. "They may not fully wake up, but they will not get the proper amount of rest."

The study also suggests that sleep apnea is under-diagnosed. More than 80 percent of participants who reported typical sleep apnea symptoms on most nights had never received an official diagnosis.

However, the study shows only an association, not cause and effect. Because the symptoms of depression and those resulting from poor quality sleep are similar, determining which came first is difficult.

Risk factors for sleep apnea, according to the  Mayo Clinic, include:

*Being male -- men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea than women.

*Obesity -- the extra fat around the neck can obstruct breathing, although thin people can develop the disorder, too.

*Age -- sleep apnea occurs two to three times more often in adults older than 65.

*A large neck -- a neck size greater than 17 inches can narrow the airway.

*High blood pressure -- sleep apnea is more common in people with hyptertension.

In other health news:

Depression often goes undiagnosed, but new Medicare benefit may help that.  Medicare now covers annual depression screening in primary-care settings with no cost-sharing for beneficiaries, the Washington Post reports. Medicare covers 60 percent of the treatment for mental health problems, including depression. Most primary-care practices that screen for depression use a questionnaire called PHQ-9, which has been found to identify depression nearly 90 percent of the time.

Inadequate bowel preparation before your colonoscopy can obscure polyps. The cleansing preparation everyone must go through the day before their colonoscopy is important; if it's not done thoroughly, it may obscure pre-cancerous polyps during the procedure, research at Washington University in St. Louis has found. Doctors often missed at least one polyp in about one-third of patients who did not properly prepare for their colonoscopy.

Most Americans getting enough vitamins. Most of us are getting sufficient amounts of key vitamins and minerals. That's the finding of a nutrition report just out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. Overall, less than 10 percent of the population appeared deficient in each nutrient.

Obese cancer patients don't get large enough chemotherapy doses. A new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology finds that up to 40 percent of obese cancer patients don't get chemotherapy doses based on their weight, jeopardizing their treatment. Researchers published new guidelines at making sure even the heaviest cancer patients get the full treatment they need, reports.

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