Sufferers of sleep apnea—a disorder that causes difficulty breathing while asleep—may face a mental health risk. A new CDC study associates the sleep disorder with depression, ABC News reports. In a study involving almost 10,000 adults, researchers saw higher rates of depression among those who reported breathing problems at night. If cells don't get enough oxygen, "a person's physical and mental health seems to suffer," says a researcher.
Only 6% of men and 3% of women in the study had actually been diagnosed with sleep apnea, while others self-reported their symptoms. That could be a problem for the study, experts say: "People are poor reporters of their sleep symptoms in general," notes one. Still, the huge number of participants could help compensate. While insomnia is known to be linked to depression, this is the first study of depression and sleep apnea in the general population, a researcher says.