Laughing Gas Examined For Treatment-Resistant Depression

The dentist’s office might be the last place you’d look to find a quick cure for an implacable bout of depression. But new research suggests that laughing gas — the mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen that eases the pain and anxiety of having dental work — may help banish treatment-resistant depression in about the time it takes to fill a cavity.

At concentrations used in dentist’s offices, and in the latest study, laughing gas can induce euphoria, disorientation and mild sedation. The experience is sought out by some drug abusers, who inhale the propellant in jarred whipped cream for a fleeting high

But it is actually another legitimate sedative-turned-party-drug, ketamine, that prompted researchers to explore whether nitrous oxide might have a rapid anti-depressant effect.

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