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forest_pool @ 03:50 am: personality changes
I have severe obstructive sleep apnea and got my CPAP about three months ago.

My ex-fiancee left me in March. I was a very different person then than I was when we met 18 months earlier. I had also gained a bit of weight. I would get in arguments all the time, say mean things and put her down, resort to cynicism, and neglect other friendships because I didn't feel I had the energy for them.

Now I'm trying to put my life back together. It's extremely difficult, when I look back to the last few months of our relationship, to see a person who couldn't have been me, and yet, was me. What went wrong? Can apnea really change your personality like that, lead you to make decisions that you look back upon and wonder how it could have been you? Or is there something else going on?

My ex-fiancee knows very little of how the apnea affected my life, because I didn't understand what it was doing to me at the time, and I wish there was some way I could explain it to her...

Anyone who has feedback to offer on this, or who has experienced something similar, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks. :)


[User Picture]
Date:August 8th, 2004 05:43 am (UTC)

mood disorders related to OSA

I am a sleep technologist and have worked in sleep disorders for more than 6 years. I wanted to respond to your questions about personality changes related to sleep apnea. The short answer that I typically give to my patients is that when you are as sleep deprived as you have been, what little amount of energy and concentration you can muster is spent on work and other things that you absolutely have to do or get through. Unfortunately other things, like friendships and housework and hobbies, often fall to the wayside because you are further exhausted from forcing yourself to do the things that have to be done.

Obstructive sleep apnea goes hand in hand with other illnesses, and unfortunately one of those is depression. OSA and depression feed off of each other. If both are left undiagnosed and/or untreated, the tiredness and inability to function or cope with things makes the depression worse. Likewise, depression's tendency to make its victims want to sleep all the time only serves to make it worse for a sleep apnea sufferer, who already never seems to get enough sleep. Even if you are not predisposed to depression, symptoms of sleep apnea are very much like those of clinical depression, i.e. tiredness, irritability, loss of interest in activities that previously gave you pleasure, lethargy, etc.

I am so glad that you have been diagnosed and have begun treatment for your sleep apnea. I'm sure you already know that the adjustments and the difficulties related to wearing the mask are minute when compared to how much better you feel and the improvement in quality of life.

I hope I have helped!
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