Symptoms of depression in individuals with obstructive sleep apnea may be amenable to treatment with continuous positive airway pressure

Chest. 2005 Sep;128(3):1304-9. doi: 10.1378/chest.128.3.1304.


Objective: To assess the reversibility of symptoms of depression using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Patients/methods: Patients referred to our center for evaluation of OSA who had a respiratory disturbance index (RDI) > or = 15 and who demonstrated a significant response to CPAP (> or = 50% drop in RDI) were evaluated for the symptoms of depression using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and then reassessed after 4 to 6 weeks of treatment with CPAP at home.

Results: In this group of patients, the institution of CPAP therapy resulted in a significant (p < 0.0001) decrease in those symptoms of depression as assessed by the BDI (BDI at baseline, 4.1 +/- 3.7; BDI after CPAP, 1.0 +/- 2.0). This change in BDI was noted both in those individuals who had received an antidepressant prescription prior to referral, and in those who had not. An analysis of variance failed to reveal any effect on these data related to gender or baseline RDI.

Conclusions: Patients with OSA may present to their primary care physician with symptoms suggesting a diagnosis of depression. In some of these individuals, the symptoms of depression may be ameliorated with CPAP.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / therapy*