Depression in Teens Linked to Lack of Restful Sleep
Any parent who has ever reviewed a list of symptoms for teenage depression knows that sleep disturbance is one on the telltale signs of this common mood disorder. What many parents and even doctors don’t understand is that the problem can also work in reverse. That means the lack of deep restful sleep in teenagers can lead to issues with depression.
Sleep-Disordered Breathing Among Teenagers
A June 2017 article published on the website Medscape.com cites findings from the 31st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies held in 2017. Part of the presentation focused on improving treatment to teenagers displaying indications of treatment-resistant depression (TRD) by screening them for sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). The prevalence of the latter problem could be as high as seven percent of all teenagers receiving medication to treat symptoms of clinical depression according to clinical studies.
Pediatricians and Psychiatrists Missing the Problem
Most pediatricians only screen patients for sleep apnea or depression and not both at the same time. If the teen scores high on a depression inventory, the typical response is to refer him or her to a psychiatrist to begin taking anti-depressant medication. Frustration can run high among patients and their parents when the medication appears to have no impact on improving the symptoms of depression. This is likely due to the fact the teen’s depression stems from lack of quality sleep and not a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Sleep Apnea and Sleep-Disordered Breathing
The problem of sleep apnea is common, and it can impact teenagers just as much as adults. A variety of physical conditions can lead to sleep apnea, including obesity, endocrine disorders, kidney or heart disease, premature birth, neuromuscular disorders, and having large tonsils. The condition causes people to briefly stop breathing during sleep and can occur multiple times throughout the night. That means even a teenager who was in bed for 10 hours may have not gotten enough restful sleep to meet the demands of the day.
Sleep-disordered breathing is the general term used to describe sleep issues when a person either stops breathing fully or partially during sleep. One of the most common causes for this disorder is underdeveloped jaws. Any type of sleep disorder can lead to chronic daytime fatigue and depression.