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Oh you're not really tired, just depressed = WRONG

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Okay, so for like...20 years...or my whole adult life...and most of my childhood probably...I've been saying, "I'm tired" or "I'm sleepy" and everyone from my parents to almost every doctor I've ever seen has said, "You're not really tired, it's just depression." And then eventually, they threw some antidepressants at me. And I still complained about being tired, so they threw some sleep meds at me. And the tiredness persisted and even got worse and, earlier this year, the diagnosis got changed to Bipolar NOS (because I have never been manic) and the tiredness was again called "depression."

But, I just saw a new Medical Doctor and she took one look at my deviated septum and said, "You're not Bipolar, I'm willing to bet you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea and at this point in your life you're so sleep deprived that the reason the Bipolar meds make you feel better is that they're treating the psychosis that results from not ever getting rested.

So, the sleep study is scheduled for a month and a half from now. Can't wait to find out the results.

Anyone else here with the experience of having Sleep Apnea/deprivation being misdiagnosed as a mental illness. Or rather, a mental illness not caused by a physical one?

Unbelievably frustrating.

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i just had deviated septum surgery in may 2008. and yes for a few weeks i was able to breathe and it seemed like my sleep was a lot better too.

but then i started having side effects from the surgery...and i dont want to scare anyone who doesnt know me...so i'll stop here. PM me if you like.

getting a deviated septum repaired can be a very good thing for breathing. very good. i strongly suggest it if your doctors agree.

**note however that this surgery did not change my MI. yes, for a few weeks my sleep was great...but my MI stayed the same.

its almost 4 am...im not sure if im making sense. feel free to PM me.


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Yeah, I keep telling myself I need to get a sleep study done for neuromuscular-obstructive sleep apnea (that's when the innervation to the muscles in your throat fail, causing the lid (epiglottis) on the tube going to your lungs to spontaneously go shut when it shouldn't... generally whilst exhaling, fortunately). It's possible I could yank myself off the methylphenidate (in the form of Concerta) I'm taking not just for AD/HD, but also for EDS/Narcolepsy (the latter it's not approved for, please note).

But come Tuesday, there's going to be a major med jumble courtesy of my two pdocs (my regular pdoc as well as a neuropsychiatrist specializing in dementias), and I'll let y'all know how it goes. Then comes the sleep study.

But you are absolutely right. Apnea as a cause of EDS is horrendously overlooked. If you can't breathe whilst sleeping, MI notwithstanding, you're not going to get a restful night's sleep.

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I have been exhuasted my whole life too. Of course, I got slapped with the "depression" label, but none of the ADs worked for me. Parnate (MAOI) gave me the best relief, but it's highly stimulating; however, I was still having to take naps and was still tired. Last year my pdoc decided I may have sleep apnea and sent me for a sleep study. Low and behold I have Narcolepsy and not sleep apnea at all. There are many sleep disorders that can cause you to be tired and sleepy, so having a sleep study is great. Maybe you will find out, like I did, that you really weren't depressed at all. You may just have been suffering from lack of sleep.

And I had the sinus surgery years ago which helped me, but not like it had hoped. Probably because my breathing was a problem but not the main issue. However, I get fewer sinus infections and am thrilled I had the surgery because if I hadn't, I'd be on a cpap right now.

Good luck and let us know how the study goes.

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  • 3 months later...
Guest Mian Farooq

Hi All.

I have deviated septum and I'm using nasal strips and they seem to make alot of difference. I was reading a book called "The IQ Answer" by Dr. Frank Lawlis, in which he explains that not breathing enough or obstruction to normal breathing can cause lack of foucs. Even though he doesn't talk about deviated septum or any surgery, his reference is in general. After using the nasal strips I feel alot more relaxed yet energized.

I was wondering what kind of related studies are available in this arena.



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i have to agree with susan. i have been sleep deprived my whole life. i was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea. even after several days w/o sleep i do not become psychotic. my judgement is impaired. my mood is very low but it never set off bi-polar or psychotic episodes. and i was surprised that the doctor would even say that to the person. it seems irresponsible to me to hold something out like that to someone. treat the apnea and see what improves--don't jump to conclusions that haven't been borne out by any reasearch.

i agree before putting it out there maybe we should look a little harder into that theory.

i think there's a little something in there though.

i don't think sleep apnea could make someone MI.

i think that long term sleep deprivation could make someone look and feel and act all kinds of MI.

if that were true, the meds might treat the MI symptoms but the problem never solved "properly".

what would work "properly" would have to be treating the sleep disorder.

after that i'd be interested in knowing how most people's symptoms change over time and what meds they hang on to.

i'm interested of course because i have hella many sleep disorder symptoms that keep getting mislabeled as anxiety, depression, and "allinyourhead disease". i STRONGLY believe that a lot of the symptoms i've fought hard to control without success are due to problems with sleep-related processes.

(specifically, fatigue that almost never leaves, night terrors, sleep paralysis, cataplexy, periods of insomnia that lead to microsleeping while functionally awake, and a few occasions of seizure-like shaking sessions where the paralysis is too complete to stand upright)

if anyone else knows some more interesting stuff about sleep disorders and differential dx that would be great... i can't make my brain run well enough to even decide where to start....

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Jumping in....

I agree with that to a point. Obviously, long-term sleep deprivation has consequences, and I agree that it can really muddy the waters in terms of treating mental illness. The part that I had an issue with was the leap it seemed the OPs doctor took by saying the OP wasn't actually depressed but only had sleep apnea. That just seems like a very long leap to make, and a somewhat irresponsible one. I would imagine dealing with the apnea would change the psychatric clinical picture, but concluding that someone with a long history of mood problems is only suffering the effects of apnea doesn't seem quite right.

This bothered me as well. I agree that sleep apnea exacerbates a mental illness, but I'm not sure I buy that sleep apnea has been mimicking a MI and, once fixed, the MI goes away. (No offense meant to the OP).

I went 2-3 years of snoring (with hubby telling me that I ceasing breathing a lot at night) Coincidentally, I was also going through one of the worse mental periods of my life. Got a sleep study, dx with obstructive sleep apnea and started using one of those glamourous machines. Within 6 months, some of my MI symptoms began to fade and I felt much better all the way around. Its amazing the destructive effect that sleep deprivation has on your brain. Regardless, I've been using the CPAP for five years and I'm still crazy as a loon.

Doing a lot of rambling tonight ;)



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i really shortchanged myself for a lot of years by assuming it was only 1 cause for my symptoms. since i got the dental appliance my sleep-though often short lived-is of a much deeper quality. and all the drugs and talk therapy in the world wouldn't have fixed that apena problem. better late than never. and maybe sharing this may help soeone else with PTSD and undiagnosed apena get to the root of their problem..

this is kinda where my brain was when i wrote this i think.

i agree with you all that it's a big leap to take right off the bat.

i think i'm biased because as unlikely as it is, i would love to hear "oh you aren't crazy you're just (fill in the disease)".

because those things have treatments that even if they're complicated, nobody doubts their necessity.

i think i've shortchanged myself for a long long time too, ignoring physical symptoms and allowing doctors to brush them off even when i did realise they required attention. a very large part of that is PTSD related. and i bet you and i are not alone in that pattern of behaviour. i am too willing to let someone else stop me when i think i need to pursue a dx or rx. all a doctor has to give me is one flippant dismissal, maybe two if i'm persistent. i can't stand up to authority when i think my life is in their hands. it doesn't matter how strong my argument is, how right i know i am, or how desperate i am to communicate the problem - i just end up walking away raging inside or devastated. i think a lot of us have this in common.

snowfly, telling what happened with you is EXACTLY why i think people need to hear stories like yours and the others in this thread. it might not be the solution to whatever flavour of crazy, but if it makes this much difference, people should not be afraid to push the issue if they think their sleep is really messing with their health.

i hope someone listens to me someday soon and tells me i can have a sleep study.

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