The Relationship between Sleep Apnea, Depression, and Erectile Dysfunction

News out from Reuters Health reports a new research study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine finds link between depression, erectile dysfunction, and the common and untreated sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea and Depression

Signs and symptoms of depression and sleep apnea are often confused or misdiagnosed. Symptoms include mood swings, anxiety, depressed thoughts (often persisting more than a few days), and decreased sexual desire or impotence. Often, the depression symptoms, anxiety, reduced libido, and poor sexual performance are all warning signs of underlying, untreated sleep apnea.

As the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine notes:

“Effective treatment of obstructive sleep apnea resulted in substantial improvement in depressive symptoms, including suicidal ideation … The findings highlight the potential for sleep apnea, a notoriously underdiagnosed condition, to be misdiagnosed as depression,” said David R. Hillman, M.D.

Treating obstructive sleep apnea with CPAP Therapy, for example, resulted in quantifiable reductions in overall depression. In one study, only 4% of patients who maintained their sleep apnea treatment with CPAP still had clinically significant depression symptoms.

Sleep Apnea, Depression, and Erectile Dysfunction

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder affecting nearly one in four overweight or obese Americans. Untreated sleep apnea increases a patient's risk for hypertension, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, car accidents, and eventually death.

The correlation between depression, sleep apnea, and erectile dysfunction suggests that all symptoms may be interrelated to one's sleep. The sleep architecture is a neurologically dynamic environment featuring alternating cycles of light and deep sleep. These different sleep stages, known as rapid eye movement (or REM) sleep, and delta or slow wave (or SWS) sleep. These restorative sleep stages are thought to be responsible for cognitive and physical restoration, when memory consolidation, emotional stability, and hormonal release occur. Untreated sleep apnea sufferers often experience fragmented sleep architecture and reduced restorative sleep indices, thus increasing risk factors for depression, erectile dysfunction, and impotence.

As Reuters notes:

"While the precise connection between this treatment and reduced erectile dysfunction isn’t clear, one theory is that lack of rest from sleep apnea might lead to lower testosterone levels. Another possibility is that sleep apnea might impact what’s known as the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for many bodily functions including sexual arousal."

Treating Sleep Apnea with CPAP to Reduce Depression and Erectile Dysfunction

The good news for those with sleep apnea and snoring is that non-invasive CPAP therapy can demonstrate improvement in symptoms of depression, erectile dysfunction, and impotence. As a patient initiates CPAP treatment in the home setting, mood and sexual function should be monitored weekly. Some patients see enough improvement to return to their prescribing physician and reduce medications previously taken for the symptoms.

If you suffer from depression, mood swings, anxiety, unsatisfactory sexual performance, low libido, or erectile dysfunction, don't wait to get your sleep tested. Treating depression, impotence, and sleep apnea are serious. Make the choice today to begin restoring your sleep with Austin's top-rated sleep lab, SleepSomatics. Call SleepSomatics today at (512) 323-9253 to restore your life with restorative sleep!

For more information on CPAP treatment for sleep apnea, depression, and erectile dysfunction, read this article's sources:

Fox News Health: Depression linked to erectile dysfunction in sleep apnea patients

Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: Depressive Symptoms before and after Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Men and Women

National Sleep Foundation: Possible Link Between Sleep Apnea and Erectile Dysfunction

Newsmax Health: Depression Often Misdiagnosed as Sleep Apnea

Reuters Health: Depression linked to erectile dysfunction in sleep apnea patients

Tech Times: Study Says Sleep Apnea Is Closely Linked To Chronic Depression


SleepSomatics Diagnostic Center is a credentialed and accredited sleep center serving Austin and Central Texas since 1999. We provide sleep diagnostic and therapy services including In-Lab Sleep Study, Take-Home Sleep Test, and Sleep Therapy. We gladly accept most insurances and provide you with a written quote of any costs. Questions? Get answers. Let's talk. Call us. We're ready when you are. Call SleepSomatics at (512) 323-9253.