03 Feb The Link Between PTSD and Sleep Apnea
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), a mental condition characterized by an inability to recover after experiencing a traumatic event, can last for months or years. Sufferers of PTSD encounter triggers that bring back memories of trauma and intense emotional and physical reactions to those memories. Once commonly known as “Shell Shock,” it’s most commonly associated with veterans returning from war.
Symptoms of PTSD include nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, and depressed mood. In addition to these symptoms, sufferers of PTSD may also avoid situations that resemble the situation where they experienced trauma. For example, someone who was in a terrible car accident may avoid riding in cars because it brings back memories of the accident.
People who suffer from PTSD frequently suffer from insomnia, but a surprising connection has been found between PTSD and sleep apnea. According to National Sleep Foundation, new research that looked at Iraq and Afghanistan veterans found that of those who were evaluated for PTSD, 69.2% had a higher risk for sleep apnea.
These findings should not be taken lightly as untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious and even deadly medical conditions. The symptoms of sleep apnea include excessive daytime sleepiness, insomnia, nightmares, sleep deprivation, snoring, and episodes of not breathing while asleep. This is caused by a blockage of the airway when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep. Left untreated, sleep apnea increases the risk of high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, heart attack, cardiac arrhythmia, stroke, depression, and diabetes.
The most common factor for sleep apnea is excessive weight which will cause the tissues in the throat to become more flabby. However, more research is necessary to determine the exact cause of the link between PTSD and sleep apnea. Some researchers suggest that sleep deprivation paired with physical and psychological stress may play a role in the connection. In addition, the study also found that the risk of developing sleep apnea increased with the severity of the PTSD symptoms.
The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP which can be very uncomfortable. For people suffering from PTSD, getting a good night’s sleep is already difficult enough without dealing with a cumbersome machine. A dental appliance can offer you an effective alternative that is both comfortable and easy to wear and in some cases may reduce or eliminate the need for machines and hoses. Call us today at (662) 823-7900 to learn more!