Background: Previous studies have suggested an association between Sleep Apnea Syndrome (SAS) and several psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Study objective: To evaluate the association of SAS with psychiatric symptoms as determined by the SCL-90 psychiatric questionnaire.
Methods: The study comprised 2,271 patients (1,977 men, 294 women) referred to the Technion Sleep Laboratories with suspected SAS. They completed the SCL-90 Symptom Self-Report Inventory and then underwent a whole-night polysomnographic examination. The study population was stratified into subgroups according to gender, age, and respiratory disturbance index (RDI).
Results: Among men, there were no body mass index, RDI, or age-related differences in anxiety, depression, or in any other SCL-90 dimension. The depression and anxiety scores were significantly higher in women than in men for all age groups and for all levels of RDI. The depression score was higher in women with severe SAS than in women with mild SAS, for all ages. Surprisingly, in women who were only simple snorers, the depression and anxiety scores were higher than in mild SAS sufferers, for all age groups.
Conclusions: In our large male population, neither the existence nor the severity of SAS was associated with depression or anxiety. Women had higher anxiety and depression scores, independent of other factors, than men. Women with severe SAS had higher depression scores than women with mild SAS.