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    Laughing gas studied as depression treatment

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    yoly
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    Laughing gas studied as depression treatment

    Post by yoly on Thu Dec 11 2014, 11:40

    http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/27767.aspx

    Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, has shown early promise as a potential treatment for severe depression in patients whose symptoms don’t respond to standard therapies. The pilot study, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is believed to be the first research in which patients with depression were given laughing gas.

    In 20 patients who had treatment-resistant clinical depression, the researchers found that two-thirds experienced an improvement in symptoms after receiving nitrous oxide. In comparison, one-third of the same patients reported improved symptoms after treatment with a placebo. The patients were evaluated on the day of and day after each treatment.

    The findings, presented Dec. 9 at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Scottsdale, Ariz., were published online the same day in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

    Although the researchers, from the university’s Departments of Anesthesiology and Psychiatry and the Taylor Family Institute for Innovative Psychiatric Research, evaluated the effects of the treatment only twice over a 24-hour period, they are encouraged by the results.

    “Our findings need to be replicated, but we think this is a good starting point, and we believe therapy with nitrous oxide eventually could help many people with depression,” said principal investigator Peter Nagele, MD, assistant professor of anesthesiology at the School of Medicine.

    As many as one-third of patients with clinical depression do not respond to existing treatments, which points to the need to develop more effective therapies. Laughing gas is attractive because its side effects are limited — the most common are nausea and vomiting — and it leaves the body very quickly after people stop breathing the gas.

    That’s why the researchers believe the improvement in symptoms a day later is real and not a side effect of the nitrous oxide. Further, they cite an anecdotal finding from the study that the improvements lasted for at least one week in some patients.

    As part of the study, patients received two treatments, but neither the subjects nor the researchers knew the order in which those treatments were given. In one session, patients were given a gas mixture that was half oxygen and half nitrous oxide — the same mixture dentists give to patients undergoing dental procedures.

    In a second session, the patients received a placebo mixture of oxygen and nitrogen, the two main gases in the air we breathe.

    Two hours after each treatment, and again the next day, the study subjects were surveyed about the severity of their symptoms, such as sadness, feelings of guilt, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and insomnia. One day after nitrous oxide treatment, seven patients reported mild improvement in their symptoms, while another seven reported significant improvement. Three patients reported that their symptoms had disappeared almost completely. No patients said their symptoms worsened after treatment with nitrous oxide.

    Meanwhile, after receiving the placebo, one patient reported worse symptoms the next day, five reported mild improvements, and two reported that they felt significantly better.

    “When they received nitrous oxide, many of the patients reported a rapid and significant improvement,” said co-investigator Charles R. Conway, MD, associate professor of psychiatry. “Although some patients also reported feeling better after breathing the placebo gas, it was clear that the overall pattern observed was that nitrous oxide improved depression above and beyond the placebo. Most patients who improved reported that they felt better only two hours after treatment with nitrous oxide. That compares with at least two weeks for typical oral antidepressants to exert their beneficial, antidepressant effects.”

    With standard antidepressants, such as Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), patients and their doctors often wait several days or weeks before they know whether treatments are working. The effects of treatments such as cognitive behavior therapy also often aren’t obvious for weeks.

    “If our findings can be replicated, a fast-acting drug like this might be particularly useful in patients with severe depression who may be at risk for suicide and who need help right away,” said co-investigator Charles F. Zorumski, MD, the Samuel B. Guzé Professor and head of the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Taylor Family Institute. “Or perhaps the drug could be used to relieve symptoms temporarily until more conventional treatments begin to work.”

    The researchers said more studies are needed to learn whether nitrous oxide has the same benefits in other patients with depression. They also plan to test various concentrations of laughing gas to see how each influences symptoms of depression. Those studies will begin soon.

    “It’s kind of surprising that no one ever thought about using a drug that makes people laugh as a treatment for patients whose main symptom is that they’re so very sad,” Nagele said.
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    Jan1
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    Re: Laughing gas studied as depression treatment

    Post by Jan1 on Thu Dec 11 2014, 17:13

    Well I know I always feel better when I'm smiling or laughing .....so perhaps this could be a new and interesting find. Depression can affect anyone and I think there are various forms / levels, if this new approach to treatment can be successful that can only be good.

    All the best Jan
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    zand
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    Re: Laughing gas studied as depression treatment

    Post by zand on Thu Dec 11 2014, 17:33

    Well I'm not sure about this. Having spent much of the last 18 years being depressed, I'm not sure how much laughing helped. I have laughed lots during that time, but still was depressed underneath. This seems to me to be a very shallow way of looking at depression. The inference seems to be that depressed people look sad all the time! Have 'they' not heard of the 'tears of a clown'? I think I'll stick with my SSRIs at least I know they work along with counselling.
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    mo1905
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    Re: Laughing gas studied as depression treatment

    Post by mo1905 on Thu Dec 11 2014, 18:07

    I don't see this as a viable treatment for depression, it may release endorphins during laughter but it is only temporary and is not dealing with the underlying issues. Laughter would make anyone feel better, whatever condition or ailment they had.


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    Re: Laughing gas studied as depression treatment

    Post by Jan1 on Thu Dec 11 2014, 18:20

    Depression is a serious matter. Mental Health issues are a serious matter and in this day and age cuts are being made to Mental Health Services (and many other services).

    I have met mothers suffering with Post natal depression and it has taken them time to resolve. Help and support should always be available to those who need it. The 'laughing gas' approach may work for some, but obviously needs to be studied further.

    I believe the mental health charity here in the UK 'Mind' can and do offer support. There logo is 'We won't give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect'.

    Whether it be from your GP - the hospital - family and friends - wherever support can be given .......support and respect must be the key words.

    Only my thoughts ..........

    All the best Jan

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    AliB
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    Re: Laughing gas studied as depression treatment

    Post by AliB on Sat Dec 13 2014, 14:38

    Apparently, nitrous oxide is generated in the sinus area when you breathe. Many people do not breathe properly - they breathe shallowly in the chest instead of deeply from the diaphragm. Others barely breathe through their noses at all. Some also have ongoing sinus issues which impact on proper breathing.

    Although few are ever told about it (what doctor is going to tell you just to practice free breathing exercises when he can give you a lucrative pill?), it is a known successful treatment for some kinds of depression and anxiety.

    Deep breathing reduces the stress response in the body by changing it over from the sympathetic stress/fight+flight) to the para-sympathetic (calming, relaxing) nervous system.

    http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/blogs/secret-cure-depression
    http://www.breathing.com/articles/nose-breathing.htm

    Believe it or not, humming during exhalation increases nitrous oxide (NO) production.

    http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.200202-138BC

      Current date/time is Fri Jul 21 2017, 09:38