Laughing gas could be an effective short term depression treatment

Research carried out by the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis has come up with a potential treatment for depression which sounds so simple and obvious it is hard to believe: laughing gas.

To give it its proper name, nitrous oxide is most often encountered in the dentist’s room as a fast acting anaesthetic.

It also helps to ease the anxiety and stress many people face when going to the dentist, and this application was found to carry over to people with depressive symptoms.

It was found, when tested on 20 patients with depression, to act as a quick fix for the symptoms, as such that it has been called a ‘rescue drug’. Although it by no means fixes the problem, nor has long term effects, it can help to make people feel better for a day or so after inhaling, according to the research.

Patients showed a “rapid and significant improvement” according to Dr Charles Conway, one of the authors of the study, and that “most patients who improved reported that they felt better only two hours after treatment with nitrous oxide.”

Nitrous oxide will not solve any issues that cause depression or suicidal tendencies, the authors have warned, but in the short term it could be beneficial until “more conventional treatments begin to work,” or act as a stop gap until proper therapy can begin.

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