A new study concluded that “laughing gas” can relieve symptoms of depression in just two hours, without causing side effects as antidepressants do.
A pilot study of 20 patients who had not previously responded to up to 12 different antidepressants revealed that they were more likely to improve with “laughing gas” treatment compared to those who received a placebo, and the benefit lasted for several days.
While antidepressants usually work by increasing levels of chemicals in the brain that feel comfortable like serotonin or dopamine, ketamine and nitrous oxide work on a different chemical in the brain known as glutamate.
It is believed that depression may be partly caused by an increase in glutamate, which may interfere with how the brain cells communicate with each other.
Ketamine can prevent the negative effects of glutamate, but its disadvantage is that it also causes a number of unpleasant side effects including hallucinations and disturbed vision, and there are concerns about its use that it says may lead to addiction.
Now researchers have discovered that nitrous oxide also works on glutamate, but in a slightly different way, and it is hoped that it will have fewer side effects.
The experimental study by Washington University in the United States compared the effects of the nitrous oxide and oxygen mixture with placebo on patients suffering from depression, who inhaled the gas for about an hour, at the dose level similar to that used by dentists as analgesics.
The results showed that one in three patients, who had previously tested an average of eight antidepressants without success, had responded to the new treatment.
Symptoms improved in patients within two hours, while conventional antidepressants may take two months to have an effect, and there were no side effects.
More than 200 patients with different types of depression are now recruited to participate in five clinical trials at universities in Washington, Chicago and other centers, where participants inhale either nitrous oxide (known as laughing gas) or a placebo gas mixture of oxygen and air, once a week For an hour over four weeks, to ensure the effectiveness of treatment with “laugh gas” more accurately.
Source: Daily Mail