Can Sleep Apnea Cause Anxiety? - The Fear of an Attack Occurring While Asleep

Sleep apnea is one of the most terrifying conditions and this is chiefly because, as a sleep disorder, it is something that the sufferer is totally powerless against. The nature of the condition makes the fear of complications both while asleep and to long-term health so severe that many people who suffer from this condition don’t only face the terrible reality of the condition itself, but the near-constant fear and anxiety of a potential attack occurring while asleep.

When it comes to sleep, it’s one of the most important bodily functions, and scientists believe that even slight irregularities in sleep routines and sleep quality can have far reaching and long-term effects on our health.

Those who suffer from sleep apnea face all of these problems, and many others besides, meaning that those who suffer from sleep apnea are much more likely to be prone to poor health and other concerns such as anxiety and even depression as a result of poor sleep quality.

One of the main tragedies of this fact is that it isn’t very well known, and many people don’t understand how life changing a diagnosis of sleep apnea can be, and how difficult it can be to have your sleep become a worrisome and potentially fatal experience that you may never wake up from.

Thankfully, modern medicine has developed some solutions to help sleep apnea sufferers to control their condition and sleep soundly, by using positive pressure systems to help keep airways open during sleep and prevent apnea attacks even in the midst of very deep sleep.

CPAP machine for help with sleep apnea

These devices have helped to massively improve the quality of life for people with this condition, however, many people still suffer from the terrible fear that comes with this condition.

What are the signs of anxiety or panic?

Those who have sleep apnea may be more prone to panic attacks due to the already irregular breathing they are suffering from. Panic attacks are typically characterized by dizziness, sweating, trembling and heart palpitations, and many of these can be caused by sleep apnea too, leading the condition to not only cause panic but to exacerbate it greatly and turn it into a recurring issue or panic disorder.

What is sleep apnea?

For those who aren’t sure, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where pauses in breathing or shallow breath occur during sleep or occur far more often than normal. There are a few different types of sleep apnea, from obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most common, to central sleep apnea and some other variations.

While the causes of the breathing irregularities can be different and lead to slightly different types of conditions, the results can be terrible, and people have died from the condition or suffered terrible attacks of anxiety and other health issues such as brain damage.

The worry about what sleep apnea can lead to is one of the core reasons that sleep apnea can cause such anxiety and have huge impacts on mental health, as well as the innate results of the loss of sleep quality and the adverse effects this could have on mental and physical health.

Another cause of anxiety for those who suffer from sleep apnea can be the way that the condition is treated.

While many treatments prescribe lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol, or sleeping in a different position, some treatments are much more invasive and uncomfortable, ranging from the consistent use of a CPAP machine whenever one sleeps to using other breathing devices to even undergoing surgery.

The conditions are also very widespread, with roughly one in 10 people globally suffering from some form of sleep apnea, and roughly 30 percent of these people being elderly. The fear of how this could impact your quality of life, especially as an elderly person, makes it unsurprising that much anxiety and fear surround the condition.

Many people find wearing a CPAP machine for sleep disturbing and uncomfortable, especially the more basic or cheaper machines that can lead to a host of uncomfortable issues such as dryness in the mouth and throat and a strange, awkward feeling as you try to breathe with positive pressure pushing into your airways.

CPAP machines can make you feel uncomfortable while sleeping, man sleeping with CPAP mask on

It can make some people feel claustrophobic too, as they will have to wear a mask while they sleep which can take some getting used to and will alarm some people, badly affecting their mental state and sleep quality.

The only positive thing is that there are some more advanced devices that use different technologies to help mitigate these issues, and can help people become more comfortable with their treatment and slowly rebuild a more comfortable and less panicked state of mind.

CPAP machines that use a humidifier and variable pressure systems are some great ways to help reduce the strangeness of using these machines and can help make patients much more comfortable and far less anxious when using these devices.

While sleep apnea is a life threatening condition and has many serious implications for sufferers, it is possible for people to take back control of their life and using the various treatments prescribed by doctors, begin to become more comfortable with their condition, and realize that modern technology can help avoid most of the worst outcomes that sleep apnea can cause.

While anxiety may still be present for some, it’s something that tends to be worse for people who are newly diagnosed with the condition and are still coming to terms with the reality of the condition and how the treatments can affect their quality of life.

However, the condition is very treatable and it’s a very common condition that most people learn to live with, preventing the fears and anxieties that come with this condition ruling their lives and worsening the existing difficulties that come with sleep apnea.