If you've ever had a baby, or taken care of a baby for any length of time, you know that when they start crying, you don't always know what's wrong. Sometimes you try everything you can think of and still they cry. It's frustrating to be unable to diagnose the problem, and even more frustrating when you think you know what's wrong but it just doesn't calm them down.
The same sort of problem can occur no matter how old a person gets. Sure, most people stop the incessant crying, and as they learn to speak they can make specific complaints, but often the diagnosis still ends up wrong, and the problem continues. A common misdiagnosis involves sleep problems, especially sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder involving pauses in breathing or periods of very shallow breathing. It is diagnosed with an overnight sleep study. If no sleep study is done, however, a person can live with sleep apnea for some time and experience a wide range of effects that they don't know how to explain. These can be confused with depression, dementia, or many other mental or physical ailments. Sleep apnea can sometimes go on for years before being identified, impacting health in other ways, as well as social and occupational status.