Obstructive Sleep Apnea Common in Individuals With Major Depression

old man with CPAP
old man with CPAP
In patients with major depressive disorder, moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea is common.

Moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is common in individuals with major depression, according to a study published in BMC Pulmonary Medicine.

Researchers analyzed data from 703 patients with major depression included in a research database of the Erasme Hospital sleep laboratory. An apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) of ≥15 events per hour was the cut-off score for moderate to severe OSA. The investigators used logistic regression analyses to identify clinical and demographic risk factors associated with severe OSA in major depression.

The investigators found a prevalence of OSA of 13.94% in patients with major depression. Multivariate logistic regression analysis identified male gender, snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, fewer insomnia complaints, presence of metabolic syndrome, age ≥50 years, body mass index of >30 kg/m2, ferritin >300 µg/L, C-reactive protein level >7 mg/L, and duration of sleep ≥8 hours as significant risk factors for moderate to severe OSA in this patient population.

Study limitations included the retrospective nature of the analysis, which precludes verifying the data; the focus on only moderate to severe OSA, which means that results may not be applicable to other breathing disorders such as central sleep apnea; and the exclusion of psychiatric comorbidities other than major depression, which precludes generalizing these findings to other psychiatric disorders.

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This study provides new information for more effective screening of moderate to severe OSA in patients with major depression. The authors called for prospective studies to corroborate these findings.


Hein M, Lanquart J-P, Loas G, Hubain P, Linkowski P. Prevalence and risk factors of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome in major depression: a observational and retrospective study on 703 subjects. BMC Pulm Med. 2017;17:165. 

This article originally appeared on Pulmonology Advisor