Background: Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is a common sleep disorder characterized by repeated upper airway obstruction during sleep. While respiratory pauses followed by loud snoring and daytime sleepiness are the main symptoms of OSAS, the patients may complain from sleep disruption, headache, mood disturbance, irritability, and memory impairment. However, the association of sleep apnea with anxiety and depression is not completely understood. Adherence to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), the treatment of choice for OSAS, may be influenced by psychological conditions, especially claustrophobia. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association of OSAS with anxiety and depression symptoms. This study also investigated the association of anxiety with body mass index (BMI) and the severity of OSAS.
Materials and methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study on 178 adult individuals diagnosed with OSAS at the sleep laboratory between September 2008 and May 2012. The participants were interviewed according to a checklist regarding both their chief complaints and other associated symptoms. The psychological status was assessed according to Beck anxiety inventory (BAI) and Beck depression inventory (BDI) scoring. The severity of breathing disorder was classified as mild, moderate, and severe based on apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) which was ascertained by overnight polysomnography. Daytime sleepiness was assessed by Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS).
Results: The mean (SD) age of participants was 50.33 years. In terms of sex, 85.5% of the study population were males and14.4% were females. We found no relation between sex and the symptoms of OSAS. Regarding the frequency of anxiety and depression symptoms, 53.9% of the individuals had some degree of anxiety, while 46.1% demonstrated depressive symptoms. In terms of OSAS severity, this study showed that OSAS severity was associated with the frequency of anxiety, chocking, and sleepiness (P : 0.001). According to polysomnographic results, we found that the majority of patients suffering from anxiety and chocking (66.7% and 71.4%, respectively) had severe OSAS, while only 23.1% of patients with sleepiness had severe OSAS.
Conclusion: Our study showed that the frequency of anxiety in OSAS patients is higher than in the general population regardless of the gender. Furthermore, it is more likely that OSAS patients present with anxiety and depression than the typical symptoms.
Keywords: Anxiety; depression; obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.