Depression has been linked to erectile dysfunction in patients with sleep apnea, according to the latest findings. Sleep apnea is a condition where the patient temporarily stops breathing numerous times a night, causing them to wake up suddenly to catch their breath. Other research has linked sleep apnea with diabetes and gout. The current study focused on erectile dysfunction within male sleep apnea patients and found that the severity of sleep apnea may not have as much to do with erectile dysfunction as depression does.
Hyun-Woo Shin, M.D., Ph.D., senior study author, said, “Although the severity of obstructive sleep apnea is one of the risk factors for erectile dysfunction, the depression is likely to have a bigger impact. Doctors should worry about erectile dysfunction if men show depressive symptoms, even in mild or moderate obstructive sleep apnea patients.”
Researchers analyzed data from 700 men treated for snoring or daytime fatigue – 93 percent of the men were diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. Severe cases of sleep apnea commonly occurred in older, more overweight men.
There was no link found between the severity of sleep apnea and the rates of erectile dysfunction, but when other factors for erectile dysfunction were accounted for, researchers found that men who showed more depressive symptoms were twice as likely to have erectile dysfunction compared to men who did not.
With further analysis and after adjusting for factors such as breathing ability and quality of life, the link between depression and erectile dysfunction still remained at 68 percent.
A limitation of the study was that the men were only looked at during a single point in their lives, so it’s hard to determine if depression is the cause of erectile dysfunction in sleep apnea patients, but an association was definitely seen.
Previous research found that treating sleep apnea can improve erectile dysfunction. Treatment for sleep apnea involves a machine that provides continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
If you awaken fatigued, with headaches, have high blood pressure or your partner suggests you snore excessively, you may want to have yourself checked for sleep apnea as it can contribute to other negative health effects.