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1-min read

Laughing Gas Can Help Ease Symptoms of Depression in Two Hours, Says Study

The pilot study, conducted on 20 patients, found that they are more likely to respond to laughing gas treatment than that of placebo gas.

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Updated:January 15, 2020, 2:03 PM IST
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Laughing Gas Can Help Ease Symptoms of Depression in Two Hours, Says Study
Representative image (Reuters)

Despite the availability of anti-depressants, more than 264 million people of all ages suffer from depression across the world, says a World Health Organisation (WHO) report. Apart from its devastating effects on health, depression can lead to suicide. The WHO report also revealed that close to 8, 00,000 people die due to suicide every year.

Several pieces of research have been conducted to develop suitable medicines to fight depression. According to a study, which was originally published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, laughing gas can help ease symptoms of depression in just two hours, the Daily Mail reported.

The pilot study, conducted on 20 patients, found that they are more likely to respond to laughing gas treatment than that of placebo gas. These patients had shown no improvement when treated with different anti-depressants previously. The study also revealed that the benefits of laughing gas treatment lasted several days.

The way anti-depressants works is altogether different from that of laughing gas, which is also known as nitrous oxide. While anti-depressants increase the amount of feel-good brain chemicals serotonin or dopamine, the laughing gas acts on a different brain chemical, glutamate. It is believed that excess of glutamate can be one of the major reasons behind depression.

Researchers have also been carrying out a comparative study between nitrous oxide and ketamine as the former works in a similar way to the latter. Ketamine can prevent a person from the harmful effects of glutamate. However, it also has a number of unpleasant side-effects including disturbed vision and hallucinations.

Laughing gas also blocks the negative effects of glutamate, but it is believed to have fewer side-effects on the body. As per reports, a new study involving 200 patients will be conducted by treating them with a mix of nitrous oxide and oxygen for an hour.

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