Is laughing gas an answer for severe depression?
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis say that nitrous oxide, popularly known as laughing gas, appears to be a promising treatment for people with severe depression.
The scientists gathered 20 depressed patients who had not responded to conventional treatments. The study participants underwent two treatments, one with laughing gas and one with a placebo. They were randomly assigned whether they would receive the laughing gas or the placebo first. The researchers then evaluated the severity of the patient's depression shortly after the treatment and again the next day, by survey. They found that two-thirds of patients reported improvement in symptoms after receiving the laughing gas, while only one-third reported improvement after receiving the placebo. None reported worse symptoms after the laughing gas treatment.
Although the study was small, the findings are promising for patients living with depression whose traditional medications do not work, especially because of the gas' fast-acting properties.