Anecdota

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Can Laughing Gas Cure Depression?


Is laughter the best medicine for depression? Hello everyone, Crystal here for DNews! Nitrous oxide, better known as laughing gas,
is a molecule composed of two nitrogen and one oxygen atoms that is best known for making
us laugh! The gas has a lot of medical applications due to its analgesic as well as its anesthetic
properties. That means it can relieve our pain and cause us to lose consciousness. You might have already encountered this ubiquitous
gas in your dentist’s chair, or at that party that one time where you were “trying
to figure out how to use the pressurized whip cream maker” and “accidentally” inhaled
gas from a canister. Humans exposed to laughing gas report feeling
dizziness, euphoria, and well … feeling happy! This is probably obvious from the side
effect that gives the gas its common name: laughing. These known side effects of nitrous oxide
exposure got researchers at the Washington University in St. Louis thinking. Why not
use laughing gas to treat depression? In a study published recently in the journal
Biological Psychiatry, patients diagnosed with treatment resistant clinical depression
received two therapeutic exposures to gas. In the first treatment session, patients were
given gas that was half oxygen and half nitrous oxide, similar to what you’re given at the
dentist. In the second session, the patients were given
gas that was a only mixture of oxygen gas and nitrogen gas, (so basically air). The study participants were asked to answer
questions about their depressive symptoms, like insomnia, sadness, anxiety, and suicidal
thoughts, 2 h, and again 24 h, after the treatment. 24 h after nitrous oxide exposure, patients
reported “mild” or “significant” improvement in their depressive symptoms. Three of the
twenty study participants reported that their symptoms had disappeared almost completely! But it should be noted that researchers observed
some placebo effects in those who received the gas mixture that did not contain nitrous
oxide. Five patients reported mild improvement, and two reported that they felt significantly
better. Additionally, the researchers only analyzed
the effects of nitrous oxide exposure after 24 h which is not a lot of time to see “prolonged
effect” and certainly too short of a time after treatment to be able to say that depression
was “cured”. And there are a few other things to keep in
mind. This was a proof of concept study, and only 20 people participated. A much more statistically
robust study with possibly hundreds of participants would be needed to make any conclusions about
the effectiveness of nitrous oxide treatments on those with clinical depression. But these
results are still encouraging! If nitrous oxide does cause short term improvements
in depressive symptoms, it could be a good way to treat immediate effects of the disease
while patients and their doctors wait for prescribed psychiatric medications to take
effect. It can take weeks for patients starting on conventional psychotropic drugs to experience
relief of their symptoms, and patients can continue to suffer while the drugs build to
full potency. Obviously more research is needed, but even
if laughing gas doesn’t “cure” depression it could be a tool for doctors to use on critical
patients who need immediate help. What do you think? Does this study give you
hope for treating depression? Subscribe to D News and let us know in the comments down
below! You can also come find me on twitter at PolycrystalHD

100 thoughts on “Can Laughing Gas Cure Depression?

  1. I've never had nitrous but I have had vicodin prescribed a few times over the last few years and that seems to help me. Sooo… I'll take another vicodin script please. I could just go back on prozak but that's boring and safe.

  2. So, some of the participants had depression all in their head. I wonder how many people that are getting help for their 'depression' don't really need it. 

  3. if you ask me only way to cure depression is to change ur life and people u know, that makes u unhappy…or just start doing meditation and im talking about real stuff, not just 1h per day joga crap.

  4. Is laughing gas the way to heal depression? Maybe it'd be better if the world became less cut-throat, less exploitative and more socially even. Sometimes when I look around me, I find the current state of the world very very depressing…

  5. Where can you get depression diagnosed anyway? I have a feeling I might suffer from it. I feel like I wouldn't mind dying though I probably wouldn't kill myself and that the world is pretty much one giant shit hole.

  6. So Nitrous Oxide……yeah, try smoking a nice fat blunt. With high grade cannabis. You won't need any NO2 to make you smile =D

  7. I used nitrous oxide on a regular basis. I had two 20 pound tanks and a mini 10 pounder as well as the whip cream canister from Starbucks with the re loadable chargers. N2O is very hard to regulate in the body when you breathe it in. I enjoyed it because it made me fall asleep and achieve states of consciousnesses in between that were other worldly. In terms of mood and emotion, these are my findings after long term personal use and administering the gas to others at many many events.. big, small, personal, public.. etc. The mood alterations are drastic and very volatile. The shift in moods are as quick as the gas itself, and the accumulated N2O, enter and leave the body. This occurs very rapidly (in terms of chemicals inside the body and the feeling of being high) since the effect wears off so fast. Hence why you need to have a mask on with O2 or use a balloon to inhale. That being said, here is where the danger comes in. Suffocating from lack of ventilation and or putting a bag of nitrous over your head . Ventilation is important because nitrous is exhaled from your body fully intact and can build up and next thing you know you're asleep. Aside from that, passing out and hitting your head is the only other way to get hurt from this experience. And overdosing if you mix, of course.

    My feelings on whether it would be a good way to treat depression… temporarily, yes. But you wake up when the drug wears off and your underlying problem, most likely, still remains. If the N2O therapy is used to remap some brain circuitry and or temp alleviation, it is viable. But if  the patient doesn't experience some other change within themselves and or have some other, more sustainable (in terms of duration) meds, I feel this will be a bandaid to the real issue and could lead to dependencies since this gas is highly addictive. Moreso than heroin (minus being physically dopesick… heroin wins in terms of physical addiction). Because it provides immediate, quick, and powerful euphoria … but then vanishes just as quick and leaves you wanting more right away. You can imagine this want/desire being 10x worse than a normal wanting feeling because your brain has just been made to feel happy for all and any reason, and it feels awesome, then it goes away and you're like.. WTF , no.. MORE MORE MORE …. and if its there, you WILL have more. Till its all gone. I called it "Getting glued to the tank".

    Long story short: N2O made people fluctuate through emotional roller coasters when administered in spurts. People would go from happy, to sad, to angry…. and all around. Breathing in the drug was the cause of this, I believe, and shows that different moods can be achieved, and are amplified, but they can be both good and bad and are mostly only temporary. I would say that I was incredibly depressed when I began using it, and I loved the fact that it could make everything better so quickly and efficiently. But I lost alot to chasing that feeling and I came out the other side (about three years later… nitrous tolerance had set in and had stopped making me fall asleep) worse off because I had run for so long and trained myself that chemicals and drugging were the answer and never really addressed the issues. So they remained.

    as for cannabis vs nitrous oxide: blow a weed hit into your nitrous oxide balloon 😉

  8. WOW! It seems big Pharma companies will just throw any drug at a problem and say the results are promising as long as it makes them money. Today it is nitrus oxide and ketamine they say may work – what tomorrow? Heroin? Maybe Demerol?
    This is the problem with our culture, we are bombarded with info that says "Got a problem? Then take this pill!"
    Taking drugs for an illness like this only masks the illness, it does not cure it. Therefore, you keep taking the drugs, the big Pharma companies keep making money!
    For anyone suffering from depression, I suggest they try a more natural approach besides drugs. The http://destroydepression.com system, which is written by a former depression sufferer, teaches a natural 7 step process which helps to eliminate depression from your life, without getting addicted to useless drugs or suffering the side effects.

  9. The "placebo" effect of the straight O2 gas results, I think, can be explained by the O2 patience feeling more refreshed and oxygenated.. alert. N2O is like alcohol in the sense it is a downer/dissociative. You're not gonna be at optimal cognitive ability during or a short time after and the N2O leaving the body is a weird, not so cool, feeling. After using no2 for a bit, you're usually gonna take a nap after and have to wait a bit until you are able to absorb and process some b12 vitamins. Straight oxygen has none of this and can make blood more oxygenated and increase brain oxygen levels and cognitive ability/mood

  10. Laughing gas as a cure? … now that's laughable.
    Depression is largely misunderstood, & you cannot effect a cure simply by addressing a surface symptom with chemical substances . As, if you artificially suppress a symptom it will in due time surface once again & substantiate itself in a different manner.
    Once the so called "professionals" manage to wrap their minds around this issue…they will be able to effect lasting remedy with relative ease & without mind altering substances.
     The cause of depression is quite simple….. basically it is anger at others turned inward….those who are depressed have turned their sword of secret judgments upon themselves, & in a sense martyr themselves by committing slow psychological suicide. And in fact that is why many of those "depressed"… actually do commit suicide…they are simply acting out what is going on inside.
    To remedy a depressed persons roiled reason, they must be made aware that they are in effect…  the cause of their own problems, therefore they will understand they can be the cause of their own cure … simply by being more self aware, as this introduces a factor of self control within themselves…
    The thing they must be more aware of is this… their reflexive reactions to everyday stress….they must practice distancing themselves from the emotionally charged thoughts that rise by objectively observing them as they take form.
    As, the attitude of objectivity acts to short circuit the thoughts by depriving them of their emotional inertia…
    And that is all they must do….learn to be patient with others, by 1st learning to be patient within themselves….this & this practice alone is all that is required to alleviate the internal angst associated with depression….their actual understanding of the how & why is not a requirement for the therapy to work….and understanding will follow naturally after they experience re-composure of reason.
    But of course this is so simple, easy & to the point that it will by and large be purposely ignored…..for where is the profit in quick & easy cures??

  11. i love nitrous oxide, the only thing about it that's not fun is that it literally wears off in a minute, other than that it's one of my favorite drugs, it's just so damn funny to use 😛

  12. I don't know if laughing gas can cure depression but stay the fuck away from youtube probably would help. I lost some of my hope for humanity just by reading comments.

  13. I have a group. On Facebook we are.there for each other, we are like family there,. Nobody can see it on your own news feed. When it comes. Up. On your news feed only u see it, unless you become friends with someone In the group where u look for friends put in Depression Isn't Easy

  14. No, it absolutely can not.
    Depression is a deep complex problem requiring one self to dive deep into the negativity in order to get to the issues that lie underneath.

    The only drugs that even allow oneself to do such a thing are psychedelics.
    Drugging down a depressed person with a dissociative is about as helpful as knocking out a person because of pain in their foot.

  15. Or we could just give them lots of marijuana…. which can't kill you at all and is not toxic and can lead to overdose unlike N2O

  16. Isn't weed a treatment for depression in some states? It definitely makes you laugh your ass off, and it's not as toxic as nitrous oxide. Really, why are we talking about laughing gas in the first place? Doesn't this seem like a very elementary conversation here?

  17. I think Crystal is a great new host. She makes a good addition to the DNews team and she has a voice that is easy to listen to. 

  18. Well, you could also do intense exercise, or stay awake for 36 hours 3 times in a row, to reset your daycycle, to get rid of depression.

  19. If you're sad, smile. It didn't help ThaT much but you're feeling a little better now, don't you? 😉 If that made you happy, please spread this message. Thank-you.😊

  20. Being drunk makes a lot of people happy too, so does sex but then it wears off. To be honest though, I dont believe in a happiness that lasts. The world will always get you down unless you live completely ignorant, thats the only way to stay happy. You have to completely block the bad shit out and put on blinders but even that wont give you a purpose. Depression is also a far more intense feeling than happiness and in a way, I dont think its normal to be happy in a fucked up world.

  21. First of all, a few important clarifications for a science channel, in the name of accuracy.  First, we lack any evidentiary basis to call the experience of depression a "disease."   The experience is real.  And its not magic, which means most certainly biological things are going on.  But after over 50 years of trying, there still exists not one single biomarker for depression or any other of the experiences we call "mental illness."  No gene identified, no chemical imbalance proven (this being one of the biggest public myths – the chemical imbalance theory being long discredited everywhere but ads for medications) no medical testing can point to any concrete biological root cause for the experience.  Again, the experience is real and people can and do suffer from depression.  But when you casually call it a disease despite the lack of evidence to support such, it leads to a lot of other problems.  For example, psychiatric medications are usually referred to as "treatments" that "correct" the effect of the disease.  This is a wonderful idea, that happens to be currently unsupported by clinical trials and scientific research.  Psychiatric medications work by introducing new effects into the brain which may have positive effects on distressing symptoms, as well as a host of other effects which may or may not be desirable.  Psychiatric medications work by altering brain chemistry.  We have evidence of that.  We have no evidence that it "corrects" any "abnormality."  The few brain imaging studies done that attempt to compare "healthy" brains to "mentally ill" brains first seemed to show very small differences…. until you realize that the "ill" brains were also people taking regular amounts of psychiatric medications.  Once studies were done that control of the effect of psychatric medications, no statistically significant differences can be found.   The effect size of antidepressant medications is quite small, so no matter whether or not the are helpful or not, they are not some kind of a wonder drug, and they come with significant side effect profile for many people.  All of this means when a science channel wants to talk about depression, it should avoid the word "disease" unless you want to get into the nitty gritty details of the limits of what we actually know and how subjective any diagnostic process actually is.  It means when talking about medications for depression, you should have some awareness that they are not, typically the thing most responsible for improvement of symptoms.  They can be helpful, at least in the short term for many people.  But the most significant force of positive healing for a person experiencing emotional distress continues to be loving, compassionate, empathetic human beings who are willing to take time and patients to be present with a person as they undertake the meaning-making journey of interpreting their own experiences.

  22. This is something I came across on my own realization, and have been researching ever since. We all tried it for the 'fun' aspect, but later realized it could be used as a tool for self exploration. Allowing the senses to fade brings forth many primal thoughts and ideas, and allows one to see how important our associations really are. It gives us perspective.
    I think there is something to it, and surely it has antidepressant qualities from what I can see. Being an NMDA agonist, yet safer and less side effects than ketamine, one can self explore all evening and control dosage. The haters will surely scoff and bring the old hypoxia nonsense into it (I used to believe that too) but if it works, it works!

  23. Laughing gas sadly makes me feel sick, I'd say try medical marijuana, but I'm allergic… Welp, time to crawl into my blankets forever.

  24. Hello! Thanks for the presentation! I have used N. O. occasionally and marijuana and they both help with relief from depression. I do have a friend who used N.O. VERY FREQUENTLY and he has had a loss of feeling in his hands and feet! He couldn't even walk for 10 days and even now has to walk carefully. He is a guitar player and he has lost the ability to play the guitar going on 3 weeks now! N.O. should only be done occasionally and I think weed is a better choice for treating depression!

  25. N2O is a strong NMDA antagonist. Which means it calms, relax you while having some dissociative effects.

  26. LIKE TAKING CYANIDE TO CURE ASTHMA….
    TAKE MASSIVE B-12 BEFORE, AFTER, OR YOUR SCREWED…..REALLY….

  27. Cure clinical depression? No, what rubbish! Depression is the result of months or years of neurological changes in certain brain regions and neurotransmitters becoming misconfigured. There's no quick fix to that. You cant instantly fix severely down regulated doperanergic pathways in the reward centre of the anhedonic brain. At best this will temporally mask depression making it seem like instant remission has occured. If we use this mentality then giving patients morphine would seemingly be a miracle cure for all sorts of psychiatric and other illness. That is until it wears off. Anything after that is just placebo effect.

    There is however a potentially untapped area in psychiatry where it could be very useful. Being that its a strong fast acting anxiolytic I do see potential for it to be used in an inhaler to avert panic attacks in people with anxiety disorder just like people who have an asthma attack use an inhaler today. It would certainly be far safer, faster acting and more effective than drugs currently in use such as benzodiazepines.

    On a side note, despite its nickname Nitrous generally doesn't make people laugh! :p

  28. I guess it could be used to permanently stop depression in just the same way helium can as unlike carbon dioxide the brain can't differentiate these gasses from oxygen. But I'm saying no more on this matter!

  29. Laughing gas can completely cure any and every depression in the world….for about 2 minutes. Clearly not a longterm solution

  30. I imagine that stimulants, opioids, benzodiazepines, inhalants, cannabis and/or alcohol would have had the same effect. Forgetting your troubles for awhile by altering your consciousness is a "thing", if you haven't noticed.

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