Laughing Gas May Help Patients With Treatment-Resistant Depression, Study Suggests

Mental Health News: Researchers found that a single, one-hour treatment that involves breathing in a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide aka “laughing gas” — significantly improved symptoms in people with treatment-resistant depression.

Treatment-resistant depression is very much harmful for physical and mental health. Patients suffer chronically as standard treatments don’t seem to have any positive effect. Worldwide, depression has become one of the leading causes of death and it is crucial to quickly find an alternative pathway to treat millions of depressed people.

Researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Chicago hired 24 patients and administered laughing gas one month apart for three months. In one session, patients breathed gas for an hour that was half nitrous oxide, half oxygen. In a second treatment, the same patients breathed a solution that was 25% nitrous oxide. A third treatment, the placebo, involved breathing only oxygen, with no nitrous oxide.

The team observed that nitrous oxide — both at 25% and in a 50-50 mixture with oxygen — improved depression in 17 of those study participants. Whereas the 50% dosage had greater antidepressant effects two weeks after treatment, the 25% dose was associated with fewer adverse events, the most common of which was feeling nauseated.

Surprisingly the symptoms of depression improved within a few hours—and lasted for several weeks—after treatment with inhaled nitrous oxide and oxygen. Nitrous oxide seems to be a cool treatment option and far more better than ketamine because it’s a volatile gas, its anesthetic effects subside very quickly.

There is a need for a large, multicenter study involving hundreds of patients, comparing the effects of ketamine as well as nitrous oxide to placebo.

To Know More, You May Refer To :

Nagele, P., Palanca, B. J., Gott, B., Brown, F., Barnes, L., Nguyen, T., Xiong, W., Salloum, N. C., Espejo, G. D., Lessov-Schlaggar, C. N., Jain, N., Cheng, W. W., Komen, H., Yee, B., Bolzenius, J. D., Janski, A., Gibbons, R., Zorumski, C. F., & Conway, C. R. (2021). A phase 2 trial of inhaled nitrous oxide for treatment-resistant major depression. Science Translational Medicine, 13(597), eabe1376. https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.abe1376

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