Hospitalized Psychiatric Patients Have High Sleep Apnea Risk

Man sleeping in his bed and snoring loudly

We know that sleep apnea has the potential to affect many aspects of your health, including your mental health. We also know that many conditions are harder to treat when people also have sleep apnea.

Now a new study shows how common sleep apnea may be among people treated for psychiatric disorders. It’s likely that better screening for sleep apnea could help treat these patients and give them better results.

Looking at Sleep Apnea in a Hospitalized Population

Researchers at the American University of Beirut Medical Center wanted to determine how many of their psychiatric patients were also suffering from sleep apnea. They looked at people who received acute psychiatric care at the hospital from 2014 to 2016.  The patients were screened using both the Berlin questionnaire (BQ) and that Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS).

The data from the sleep questionnaires was then analyzed alongside the demographic and other information collected from patients, including age, race, psychiatric diagnosis, depression symptoms, and anxiety symptoms.

Overall, the risk of these patients was quite high as estimated by the BQ. According to that measure, nearly 40% of patients had a high risk for sleep apnea. Oddly, though, only about 10% had high daytime sleepiness as estimated by the ESS.

The two strongest correlates for sleep apnea risk seemed to be body mass index (BMI) and depression severity. As depression increased, so did sleep apnea risk.

Increased Screening Could Help

Researchers point to the possible epidemic of undiagnosed sleep apnea as a serious risk that needs to be accounted for in treating psychiatric patients in the hospital. Failure to detect and treat this sleep apnea could make it harder to identify the root cause of a patient’s condition and achieve satisfactory treatment results.

If you have a clinical psychiatric condition, sleep apnea treatment isn’t a substitute for psychiatric care. But in many cases, undiagnosed sleep apnea could be misdiagnosed as depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders. Proper screening for sleep apnea could help avoid this problem and lead to better treatment results.

Treating Sleep Apnea and Psychiatric Disorders

Doctors also need to take psychiatric disorders into account when prescribing sleep apnea treatment. Some psychiatric disorders may make it harder to comply with CPAP treatment, for example. Low mood is associated with poor compliance for CPAP, as is PTSD.

For people with these conditions, oral appliances may be a better option. Besides, oral appliances have been shown to be effective for treating psychological distress.

If you are looking for help getting sleep apnea treatment that helps support treatment for physical or psychological conditions, we can help. Please call (201) 343-4044 or (201) 546-8512 today for an appointment with River Edge sleep dentist Dr. Marlen Martirossian at the River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry.