Snorting, gasping, or stopping breathing while asleep was associated with nearly all depression symptoms, including feeling hopeless and feeling like a failure, according to results from what authors say is the first nationally representative sampling to examine this relationship. They note that additional research may be needed to determine whether regular screening for these conditions by mental health professionals and sleep specialists should be recommended.

The data come from survey results using the PHQ-9, the nine item depression scale of the Patient Health Questionnaire, in a national sample of 9,714 American adults. In men, sleep apnea was associated with probable major depression, but snoring was not associated with depression symptoms in men or women. Snorting/stopping breathing 5 nights a week or more was strongly associated with probable major depression in both genders, as compared to those who never experienced these issues.

The likelihood of depression increased with the reported frequency of snorting and/or instances when breathing stopped in the study, according to lead author Anne G. Wheaton, PhD. She suggested screening for both disorders could help address the high prevalence and under-diagnosis of sleep apnea and depression, especially if sleepiness is a chief complaint.