Ask the Sleep Doctor – Topics: Depression, Antidepressants, Heart Disease

Sleep doctor ready to answer questions

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Can antidepressants cause insomnia? I was placed on bupropion for depression. Soon after starting the medication I had trouble sleeping. Could that be a cause ?


Yes, it could. We know that many people with depression have trouble sleeping, in most cases the insomnia is due to the depression. However, some antidepressants such as bupropion cause an increase in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, that can cause insomnia. If this continues make sure to discuss this with your prescribing health care provider.


Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

Can lack of sleep lead to heart disease. My husband has been a night shift worker for years. He has never been able to adjust and gets no more than 5 hours of sleep during the day. He just had a stress test that shows possible blockage of his coronary arteries . I have been worried about the effects this might have on his health for years, I’d like him to change jobs and get a good night’s sleep. Am I wrong?


No, you are not. Of course, coronary artery disease is and can be caused by many factors. However, we know that insufficient sleep can be a major contributing cause.It is not a coincidence, that shift workers have a much higher incidence of heart attacks than do day workers.


Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My husband suffers from depression. He has been on several medications over the years with little or no improvement. He snores and I can see him not breathing. he refuses to get this checked out. Could it be contributing to his depression?


Yes, not only can it be contributing to  his depression, but it may be the reason he is not doing well on medication. A study presented at this year’s Sleep conference dealt with that topic. Patients with depression who had sleep apnea and did not treat it were 1.5 times less likely to respond to antidepressant therapy. This is one of several studies that have demonstrated a relationship between sleep apnea and mood disorders. You should encourage your husband to discuss his snoring and observed not breathing spells with his health care provider or psychiatrist.



Dr. Robert Rosenberg, D.O., FCCP, DABSM

Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, FCCP, is the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona and sleep medicine consultant for Mountain Heart Health Services in Flagstaff, Arizona. Dr. Rosenberg is board certified in sleep medicine, pulmonary medicine, and internal medicine. He is a contributing sleep expert blogger and his advice has appeared in Women’s Health, Prevention, Ladies’ Home Journal, Parenting, and O Magazine, among others. Dr Rosenberg is a weekly newspaper columnist addressing sleep Q&As. Dr. Rosenberg appears on TV and radio and lectures throughout the country on Sleep Medicine. His book Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day  is a best seller. Dr Rosenberg’s latest book is The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety. Visit Dr Rosenberg’s website which is a wealth of information on sleep topics.

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1 thought on “Ask the Sleep Doctor – Topics: Depression, Antidepressants, Heart Disease

  1. Jack Burns Reply

    I have severe OSA and have had for years. In May of this year, 2016, my doctor switched me from CPAP to a new APAP machine and set the top end pressure up. About 6 weeks later I developed symptomatic bradycardia and am being evaluated for sick sinus. A follow up echocardiogram shows a left ventricular ejection fraction of 61%, grade 2/4 left ventricular diastolic dysfunction. I have looked into every possible cause of the sudden onset bradycardia and have suspected a link to the switch to autopap. Today I say something online where autopap might not be well suited to heart failure patients. I’m not in failure, yet, but I’m on my way. Is autopap a bad idea for me? Thanks.

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