PTSD and CPAP Intolerance? These 5 Tips can Help.


Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea has been shown to improve anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of Post-Traumatic Sleep Disorder but compliance with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) has been worse in these patients. My patients suffering from anxiety, depression, insomnia and similar symptoms do find it difficult to sleep with the CPAP.

If you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD and OSA, the following tips can help.

1. Get treated for PTSD. The treatment by your therapist or psychiatrist will improve your sleep quality and thereby your CPAP adherence, which in turn will help alleviate your PTSD symptoms. We request that you regroup and see them regularly.

2. Try a mild anxiety or sedative medicine. Talk to your physician about this. This will help you adjust to CPAP.

3. Practice Self-relaxation, meditation, and yoga. This can help reduce your anxiety about CPAP initiation. In our experience, these interventions are far more effective in the long run than the medications for anxiety or insomnia.

4. Use a small, non-intrusive nasal cannula instead of a large, bulky, suffocating mask. This will minimize claustrophobia and resultant anxiety panic feeling.

5. Attend a local CPAP support group. Studies have shown that such participation improves CPAP experience and adherence.

It can be difficult to get used to CPAP, but it is worth the pain. It not only improves your psychiatric symptoms, but would also improve your energy level and alertness. It will also reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, and drowsy driving death.

So, start using CPAP. Stay with it. Don’t quit on it. Call us if we can help.

Sleep Well, Live Well.

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