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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Laughing gas found helpful as treatment for severe depression

December 10, 2014 by Donna Crepeau

Laughing gas found helpful as treatment for severe depression

Laughing gas found helpful as treatment for severe depressionPatients that suffer from severe depression and would not respond to normal therapies have been found responding to nitrous oxide or laughing gas treatment.

A research conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown patients with treatment-resistant clinical depression improved significantly within a day or two of being administered with nitrous oxide.

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, is an inhalation anesthetic used in dentistry and surgery – but has been found helpful for treating depression. Twenty patients were administered with this gas, and two-thirds reported significant improvements 24-hours after receiving laughing gas, while a one-third that received placebo reported they were not in any way better.

In order to be certain of the results achieved with nitrous oxide, the researchers replicated their trials and the same findings were obtained. Patients with severe depression were given two kinds of treatments – but neither the patients nor the researchers understood the order for administering the treatments; a group of patients were given a mixture of half oxygen and half nitrous oxide, and the other group was given a placebo mixture of oxygen and nitrogen – the two atmospheric gases we breathe in the air.

The first group that got half oxygen-half nitrous oxide reported a day after the gas was administered that feelings of sadness, guilt, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and insomnia was greatly diminished: seven patients reported significant improvements, seven confirmed they had mild improvements, three confirmed that their conditions were almost disappeared, but no patients reported any side-effects.

The second group that had placebo treatment reported very little improvements: one’s condition worsened after the treatment, two others experienced considerable improvement, and five reported they only felt better.

But according to Dr. Charles R. Conway, “most patients that received nitrous oxide reported rapid and significant improvements in their health conditions.”

Published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, the researchers are interested in knowing if laughing gas could be administered to other groups of patients with depression – and they intend to test out various concentrations of the gas to determine how it influences the treatment of depression symptoms.

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