Sleep Disorders

Young Veterans with PTSD Prone to Higher Risk of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

According to Mayo Clinic, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is described as a mental health condition triggered by a terrifying event; either by experiencing or witnessing it. A new study of young US veterans indicated an increasing probability of having obstructive sleep apnea with those possessing PTSD. With increasing severity of PTSD, veterans have shown higher risks of having obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

One hundred and ninety-five Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were evaluated at a VA outpatient PTSD clinic for the study. Results indicated that 69.2% of these participants were at a higher risk for sleep apnea with increasing severity of PTSD symptoms. According to investigator Sonya Norman, PhD, researcher at San Diego VA, veterans with PTSD should be screened for OSA in order to be properly diagnosed and treated. She continues by adding that such information is essential because of the risk factors that are attached to sleep apnea.  Some of which include hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and psychological problems such as depression and anxiety.

At least 25 million adults in the US have been reported to have obstructive sleep apnea according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Symptoms may include snoring, gasping or choking during sleep, non- restorative sleep, and daytime sleepiness. Because younger veterans are rarely screened for sleep apnea, they remain undiagnosed. Although the mechanism behind the relationship between sleep apnea and PTSD in veterans remains unclear, potential factors may connect the two disorders.  Such factors include prolonged sleep deprivation, hyper arousals as a result of physical and psychological stressors of combat and disturbed sleep during combat. It is important to get yourself properly diagnosed and treated if you or someone you know have experienced any of the symptoms described in this article. Feel free to contact our office at (386)-423-0505.