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Melbourne researchers trial laughing gas to treat severe depression

Apr 11, 2019

A group of Melbourne researchers believe nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, may hold the key to treating severe depression in people who have not responded to standard therapies.

In the first study of its kind in Australia people with depression will inhale about the same amount of nitrous oxide as someone getting a filling at the dentist.


Using psychedelic therapy to treat depression is an emerging trend as clinical studies show it can tap into a different set of brain chemicals than conventional medicine.


"The reason why we think laughing gas is very likely to be so effective is that it works through completely different pathways in the brain to all the normal antidepressant medications," Associate Professor Myles says.



"All the ones that have been used in the last 50 or so years have worked through what’s known as the serotonin pathway. This works through a different pathway which we call the NMDA pathway.”



Unlike traditional antidepressants, which raise serotonin levels, the NMDA pathway targets nerve cells in the brain linked with excitability.


The research follows a breakthrough University of Washington pilot study that found two-thirds of a small sample of people with severe depression who were treated with nitrous oxide experienced a significant relief of symptoms.


Reference from smh.com.au



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