In a new study, researchers have asserted that patients with treatment-resistant clinical depression improved significantly within a day or two of being administered with nitrous oxide. The study included 20 patients, who were suffering from depression. They were administered with the laughing gas, and two-thirds of them showed improvement within a day of the process.

However, there was no improvement seen on one third of the participants. Scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis conducted the research.

The researchers wanted to be surer of their findings, and hence conducted replicas of the same research. At multiple locations with patients of the same disorder, they received similar results and had a common link within the findings. The researchers are further interested in knowing if laughing gas could be administered to other groups of patients with depression. They also intend to further test out various concentrations of the gas to determine how it influences the treatment of depression symptoms.

“The nitrous oxide treatment improved it above and beyond the placebo. This was fairly rapid, so at two hours. But our primary endpoint when we measured everybody — we asked the patients to come back the next day — was sustained to a day,” said Dr. Peter Nagele, assistant professor of anesthesiology at Washington University’s School of Medicine, said in a podcast produced by the school. But according to Dr. Charles R. Conway, “most patients that received nitrous oxide reported rapid and significant improvements in their health conditions.”

The authors of the study also found that laughing gas has less side effects than similar drugs such as katamine. Both are used as a sedative by dentists, but katamine is much stronger. The findings were published on Tuesday in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

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