Laughing gas may be most associated with its use in dentistry, but in recent years, scientists have been inching toward using the chemical for another purpose: depression that defies treatment. The results of a small trial, published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine, suggest that a low dose of laughing gas could help improve depressive symptoms in patients with a severe form of depression that fails to respond to antidepressants.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that a low dose of nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, was just as effective at improving depression as a higher dose in patients with treatment-resistant depression, with less adverse side effects after two weeks. Either dose relieved symptoms more than placebo. A larger trial is planned to confirm the results.