A safer, low dose of laughing gas may be enough to help some patients with major depression, study finds

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.

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