Anxiety and CPAP
Last updated: May 2022
A very common problem I have when working in the sleep lab is dealing with anxious patients.
It doesn't take much of an imagination to conclude what will happen when you take a mask, place it on an anxious person, and begin to pump in pressure...the mask doesn't stay on for too long.
So what's the solution? The apneic patient needs CPAP but has a real problem when dealing with anxiety.
What can I do about anxiety and CPAP?
In this article, I decided to present 3 different solutions to a problem I am calling anxiety and CPAP. I will expound on these 3 solutions: right focus, success stories, and right mask.
I will put this disclaimer out there though, the solutions I am presenting aren't the only way to help with anxiety and CPAP. Neither are the solutions easy to apply and as always, consistency is the key.
Solution 1: right focus
When a person first starts on CPAP, they have a tendency to focus on how to breathe with the mask and the air pressure coming through; this is completely understandable. The patient assumes that once they can breathe with the air pressure, they'll be able to sleep.
In my opinion, the patient has the wrong focus. The focus shouldn't be on the breathing, the mask, or the air pressure. The focus should be on sleeping. Once the patient is asleep, everything else naturally falls into place.
We all know when we have the right focus, most everything falls into place. It works the same way with anxiety and CPAP.
Solution 2: success stories
Let's be honest, life can be very challenging, so we all need daily encouragement to press ahead. If you struggle with anxiety and are trying to stick with CPAP, you'll need daily encouragement in this specific arena of your life.
So seek out success stories. There's something inspiring about the person against the odds. I think successful stories about CPAP would be best, but it doesn't have to be limited to CPAP. Seek out stories about weight loss, financial success, or whatever goal seemed impossible.
Hopefully, these stories with help you stick with wearing the CPAP and then your story will inspire those around you.
Solution 3: right mask
No matter the person, we all have this in common: we've all made a wrong choice. We have dated the wrong person, bought the wrong shirt, picked the wrong answer on a multiple-choice – and since this is true in many areas of our lives...perhaps, maybe, possibly, you could have picked the wrong mask?
There are 3 different types of masks: the nasal pillows, the nasal mask, and the full face mask. There are several different versions of each type of mask. I would encourage you to try several different types of masks if your current one doesn't suit you.
Where to find a different CPAP mask
“Where would I find all these masks?” Great question! It's likely your local mall won't carry that type of store. So a couple of places I would try: first, your local durable medical equipment (DME) store. They provide medical equipment and they'll have several masks. Second, I would ask your sleep doctor. They'll likely have several on hand. Perhaps they'll be willing to let you try a few different ones on.
Thanks for reading. I hope you'll add your comments and questions below.
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