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Recognizing the Psychological Problems of Sleep Apnea

May 1, 2008
There are many medical problems associated with sleep apnea as well as some psychological ones. If the normal, constant flow of oxygen is interrupted during sleep, the brain is deprived of this essential element and it can cause crippling effects. Recognizing and understanding the psychological symptoms that can occur can lead to treatment and relief.

Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Although sleep apnea is a very common disorder, many people may be affected by it but not know they have it. Basically, this condition causes a person to stop breathing during sleep. Throat muscles that relax too much and narrow the airways or even close the opening for a short time can cause this. The tongue can also fall back across the airway during sleep and this will affect breathing.

In the end, the same result happens: the brain losses much needed oxygen which can lead to other problems. Snoring can also be present in a person with sleep apnea. This could be the brain alerting the sleeper that the airway is blocked. The person may wake from the sound of their snoring and then change their sleeping position. You may decrease the episodes by sleeping on your side instead of your back.

Psychological Problems from Sleep Apnea

While there are many physical issues that result from sleep apnea, the psychological ones may be subtler to recognize and accurately diagnose. The first aspect we see in this condition is that the person does not receive a restful night's sleep. The body requires a certain amount of sleep to restore, repair and recharge the body's major organs right down to the cellular level.

A person can be exhausted without this in the morning. Drowsiness during the day is present and an intense desire to sleep will stay throughout the day. Frustration and irritability will follow as the person tries to stay awake to perform daily duties. Also there can be problems with concentration and memory loss. Depression can be the ultimate combination of these emotions. A person may feel like they are losing their mind and be unable to focus.

The only desire may be to stay in bed and get the rest they think they need, when in reality, they should be seeking treatment for their sleep disorder. In extreme cases, the psychological problems of sleep apnea may include thoughts of suicide. If the brain is continually deprived of oxygen night after night, the quality and purpose of a person's life steadily declines. Anti-depressant drugs are not effective in this case because the medical condition of sleep apnea needs to be diagnosed and effectively treated first.
About the Author
Do you think you're the only one dealing with sleep apnea? You'll probably be surprised if you look at some sleep apnea statistics - it's a common problem. Find out what you can do about it on the Apnea Guide website.
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