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Sleep. 2012 Apr 1;35(4):461-7. doi: 10.5665/sleep.1724.

Sleep disordered breathing and depression among U.S. adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005-2008.

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  • 1Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA.



To determine if symptoms of sleep disordered breathing (SDB) are associated with depression symptomology in a national sample.


National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.


U.S., 2005-2008.


9,714 adults (≥ 18 years).


Respondents were asked about frequency of snoring and snorting, gasping, or stopping breathing while asleep and completed the PHQ-9 (a 9-item depression screener). Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for SDB symptom-associated probable major depression (defined as a PHQ-9 score ≥ 10) were obtained from sex-specific logistic regression analyses adjusted for body mass index, age, race/ethnicity, and education.


Among men, 6.0% reported physician-diagnosed sleep apnea, 37.2% snored ≥ 5 nights/week, 7.1% snorted/stopped breathing ≥ 5 nights/week, and 5.0% had PHQ-9 scores ≥ 10. Among women, 3.1% reported sleep apnea, 22.4% snored ≥ 5 nights/week, 4.3% snorted/stopped breathing ≥ 5 nights/week, and 8.4% had PHQ-9 scores ≥ 10. Sleep apnea was associated with probable major depression (OR = 2.4; 95% CI: 1.5, 3.6 among men; OR = 5.2; 95% CI: 2.7, 9.9 among women). Snoring was not associated with depression symptoms in men or women. Snorting/stopping breathing ≥ 5 nights/week compared to never was strongly associated with probable major depression in men (OR = 3.1; 95% CI: 1.8, 5.2) and women (OR = 3.0; 95% CI: 1.6, 5.4).


Frequent snorting/stopping breathing was associated with probable major depression by the PHQ-9 in a national sample of adults. Additional research may be needed to determine whether regular screening for these conditions by mental health professionals and sleep specialists should be recommended.


Sleep disordered breathing; depression; obstructive sleep apnea

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