While sleep apnea and generalized anxiety disorders (GADs) might not seem to have a lot in common, there is actually quite a bit of overlap when it comes to the symptoms. And for the unlucky people who have both conditions, they can exacerbate one another’s symptoms, creating a less-than-ideal situation. Understanding the relationship between the two can often serve as a first step toward treatment and lasting relief, because while it can feel overwhelming, overcoming each of these problems is very possible in today’s world.
How Sleep Apnea & Anxiety Interact
In addition to keeping your body strong and healthy, consistent rest is also essential for mental health, particularly when it comes to dealing with stress. When something causes worry, sleeping allows the brain to process it. If someone is always sleep deprived because of sleep apnea, however, it’s more likely they will be overcome with anxiety because their brain is less capable of coping with it. At the same time, anxiety can make it much harder for someone to fall and stay asleep.
This can create an infinite loop where someone is stressed because they weren’t able to sleep enough, and that lack of sleep makes them less able to handle stress. Another example is that many people who struggle with anxiety cope by eating large amounts of food, leading to obesity, which is one of the leading causes of sleep apnea.
Elevated blood pressure is a common symptom of both conditions, and when combined, they put someone at a much higher risk of a heart attack or stroke. Whether sleep apnea or anxiety came first doesn’t matter because the symptoms of one lead to the symptoms of the other.
There is Hope
Fortunately, while sleep apnea and anxiety disorders are becoming more common as the years go by, both are treatable. What’s important is that if a person suspects they are dealing with both that they address each one. Medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes can help with anxiety, and for sleep apnea, the answer can come from an unexpected place—the dentist.
How a Sleep Dentist Can Help
Sleep dentists receive special training on how to screen patients for sleep apnea, and more importantly, they can also provide custom-made oral appliances that allow someone to breathe consistently through the night and avoid the interruptions caused by the condition. As a result, the patient is able to sleep deeply, allowing their brain to adequately process whatever stresses they might have, which will lower their overall sense of anxiety.
While getting treatment for both sleep apnea and anxiety might seem daunting, know that addressing one will improve the other, leading to a life where you not only feel calm and at ease, but not exhausted as well!
About the Author
Dr. Mitch Conditt is a sleep dentist with over 35 years of experience helping patients overcome sleep apnea and snoring. He is board-certified in dental sleep medicine and a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and the Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorders Disciplines. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Conditt so he can help you start getting your sleep and anxiety under control, click here or call 817-527-8500.