Sleep Apnea and Mental Health

What One Has to Do with the Other

Photo by SHAHBAZ AKRAM on Pexels.com

Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing while you are sleeping. There are different things they look at when they test for sleep apnea. The three I know of are how many times you stop breathing, how long do you stop breathing and then what your pulse ox is at different periods of time while you are sleeping. When I was tested I stopped breathing 8 times in the night. That isn’t great, but it isn’t bad. My problem was my pulse ox. That is how much oxygen is saturating your blood. I drop down to 62%, which is bad, really bad.

When your blood doesn’t have oxygen, neither do your organs, including your brain. So everything suffers. And if you have mental health problems the fact that your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen means it can’t function properly to help you cope with your mental health problems.

Some of the really annoying things about sleep apnea are the headaches every morning, the inability to think straight, the fatigue. I mean there are lots more, but those are the ones that keep me completely befuddled everyday.

Treatment

Sadly there is only one treatment for sleep apnea and that is a CPAP machine. What it does is it goes on your mouth and or nose and when it senses you have stopped breathing it gently pushes air into your mouth and or nose and you start to breathe again. There are 3 masks that I know of, the mouth, nose and full face. I have tried them all and have not been able to keep them on.

The masks are great unless the seal between the mask and your face breaks, then you are in a wind tunnel. In my case that happens constantly. So I get no sleep at all. Well, I start out at 3 hours and then each night it gets worse. Eventually I can’t even keep the seal for the amount of time it takes me to fall asleep.

Now I am to be introduced to a new apparatus. I don’t really like to call it a mask, it doesn’t cover your face. It’s called the Bleep. It has two plugs that go in your nose. You are supposedly able to move, supposedly you don’t lose the seal, supposedly it is loads better. We shall see I guess. I know I really hope it works. A drop in blood oxygen affects every organ in your body. So my liver and kidneys that are overloaded with medicines are attacked even more so. My pancreas is affected, so my diabetes is affected. My lungs are affected so heaven forbid I should get Covid-19 at this point. My intestines are affected so my IBS-C is affected, I am also more likely to get a stroke…I think you get the idea.

My doctor has managed to scare me half to death now, and I was scared before she went on her rant that I had to make this work. So here is hoping. And if you have sleep apnea, please take it seriously. Truly, there is nothing it doesn’t affect.