Sleep apnea and anxiety

by Anxious
(US)

I have obstructive sleep apnea and wear a full face mask.

I have allergies and a deviated septum. For about 6 weeks I did not wear my mask.

All of the sudden I have had bad anxiety and panic attacks. I started wearing my mask again but still have the anxiety and panic.

I have read that lack of oxygen effects a part of the brain that controls anxiety.

I had a expensive blood test tat showed oxygen levels etc and my doctor said it came out normal.

Is there any procedure or tests to confirm that my problem is apnea related?

I had an exam for the pillar procedure and the doctor said with my allergies and septum he felt the cpap was not doing much for me.

Any info and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Answer

It's true, sleep apnea causes anxiety and panic attacks.

Every apnea episode and every shallow breathing is leading to carbon dioxide retention. When you are building up carbon dioxide in your body, you will also increase the acidity levels in the amygdala, which was shown to play a key role in the processing of emotions, including fear and other behaviors.

Combining this biochemical reaction with the over-responsiveness of the nervous system that comes along with low quality of sleep, is quite obvious why a person with untreated sleep apnea feels so anxious or overstressed.

There is a study where scientists explain why breathing carbon dioxide triggers panic attack.

Please remember that not every patient with sleep apnea has a low blood oxygen levels. So an oximeter is not always helpful to diagnose if you have sleep apnea or not.

However, high levels of carbon dioxide is a good way to discover that you have problems with your breathing, mostly in sleep. If you have sleep apnea, the CO2 levels are high during the night and in the morning, but then subside during the day, when you breathe normally.

So start doing breathing exercises, yoga, to refresh your blood with qualify levels of gases. Furthermore, you need to improve your sleep quality. You need to start using that CPAP in one way or another.

Take care of your deviated septum first, then the allergies. Your deviated septum makes everything worst (related to your breathing during the night).

Hopefully, once your sleep quality improves, your symptoms will improve significantly.

I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide


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