Epilepsy Talk

Treating depression is no laughing matter. Or is it? | June 10, 2021

When you think of treating depression, your mind often goes to antidepressant pills, pills, and more pills. Sometimes all for naught.

According to research published in the World Journal of Psychiatry, up to 15% of people diagnosed with depression don’t respond to traditional medication.

And around 35% say that antidepressants only offer partial relief from widely available treatments, highlighting the need for medication that works in different ways.

Now, groundbreaking research points to a new possibility.

It blew my mind. I think it will astound you, too.

Believe it or not, laughing gas is the answer.

Nope, I’m not kidding.

You might have been given laughing gas (nitrous oxide) during a dental procedure, or even while giving birth.

It’s a mild sedative gas that slows down the nervous system and dulls pain, making patients feel more at ease and less inhibited.

Despite its “laughing gas” reputation, patients who receive such a low dosage actually fall asleep.

Enter Ketamine.

“Like nitrous oxide, ketamine is an anesthetic, and there has been promising work using ketamine at a sub-anesthetic dose for treating depression,” says Dr. Nagele, a co-author of this study and professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at The University of Chicago.

They’re not getting high or euphoric, they get sedated.”

“The effects after a single administration lasted for a whole two weeks,” said Dr. Nagele.

“This has never been shown before. It’s a very cool finding.”

The study, found that a single inhalation session with 25% nitrous oxide gas was nearly as effective as 50% nitrous oxide at rapidly relieving symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, with fewer adverse side effects.

It also found that the effects lasted much longer than previously suspected, with some participants experiencing improvements for upwards of two weeks.

This could be a game-changer for the many people who don’t respond to other antidepressants.

Individuals who don’t respond to at least two different antidepressants — who, by and large, tend to be women and older people — might be diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression.

Some had tried an average of 4.5 different antidepressants and had had depression for 17.5 years on average!

“One thing has become clear, especially after the success of ketamine: It is necessary to find different mechanisms of changing brain function in patients with depression,” Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at UT Southwestern Medical Center, told NBC News.

What has been developed by drugmakers in the past 25 years is not sufficient.

While it remains challenging to get non-traditional treatments for depression accepted in the mainstream, researchers hope that these results, and other similar studies, will open the minds of reluctant physicians toward the unique properties of these drugs.

“These have just been pilot studies,” said Dr. Nagele.

“But we need acceptance by the larger medical community for this to become a treatment that’s actually available to patients in the real world.

Most psychiatrists are not familiar with nitrous oxide or how to administer it, so we’ll have to show the community how to deliver this treatment safely and effectively.

I think there will be a lot of interest in getting this into clinical practice.”

With broader public acceptance, Nagele hopes that these results can open doors for those patients who are struggling to find adequate therapies for their depression.

There is a huge unmet need,” he said. “There are millions of depressed patients who don’t have good treatment options, especially those who are dealing with suicidality.

If we develop effective, rapid treatments that can really help someone navigate their suicidal thinking and come out on the other side — that’s a very gratifying line of research.”

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  1. I never forget the 1st 5 minutes after my brain surgery. I KNEW just HOW I was feeling and WHY I was feeling HOW I was feeling. That could not ever been the normal of believing WHAT I had just gotten through for 10 hours meant that no seizures was going to be in my life after all of the HIGHLIFE GAS I call it was out of my system & CNS. So I was so positive after my brain surgery, the head neurologist on my case said I needed to go on the ADD called PAXIL. I asked FOR WHAT ? Am I not to feel better & good that no lesion is not in my brain ? All as I said that I was reminded that the root of the stem of that lesion they could not get, so that was to had discouraged me then in 2001, but it did not. I did take the PAXIL for their experiment, as when 1 day passed on with taking PAXIL, I started that DOWN & DEPRESSED LIFE, with thoughts of suicide and other crazy actions I had thoughts of doing & I said then HELL NO !!! & I quit taking the PAXIL. After 1 week on the PAXIL with in 2 days after taking myself off of it, I felt fine & knew my brain was all normal with NO CRAZY THOUGHTS not taking the drug. When I told my neurologist what I did, he said I did it for all the wrong reasons I was to had stayed on the drug for. Then I said “” I felt worse taking the drug”” and he did not understand that, all to tell me,, ”’GO BACK ON PAXIL & if I FELT THE SAME WAY GO OFF IT AS I DID BEFORE”’. SO I ask,, WHO NEEDS HEARING BRAIN CELLS, when these doctors could care less how you feel 1 way or another,, when all they care about is more money from DRUG COMPANIES, before seeing any of us wanting to have a normal seizure free life, that does not happen from taking ADD’s like PAXIL, & other ADD’s. Some people I know have been given KEPPRA for their ADD & other neurological condition they live with. That to me is what I call a BRAIN ABUSE ACTION where KEPPRA is named to be given for any brain condition one may be living with.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by James D — June 10, 2021 @ 7:41 PM

  2. Laughter (without Nitrous oxide) has been used as a treatment for anxiety and depression for some time, see:


    For me however, reading the paper about the use of Laughing Gas was especially meaningful because it was discovered in the 1790’s by the brilliant scientist Humphry Davy who lived in Penzance, Cornwall, England. I too lived and went to school in Penzance (about 160 years after Davy) and Like Davy I too went on to study chemistry, but sadly unlike Davy I never discovered or invented anything of use to anyone!

    I recommend the on line Britania or Wikipedia articles on Sir Humphry Davy to anyone interested in the history of science.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Michael H — June 11, 2021 @ 12:28 AM

    • I couldn’t find/open the link, but I marvel at your smarts and intelluctual curiosity.

      Here we are, thinking we have found something revolutionary — and there you have it — in hidden history.

      Thanks Michael, for a real eye opener.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 11, 2021 @ 8:12 AM

  3. A lot of depressed people commit suicide .. Robbie Williams ( and I’ve lost a few friends to the dirty big fat liar as-well ) they can’t see light at the end of the tunnel people with epilepsy have no light to see they go to bed as an ( is this ok in today’s social climate ) epileptic knowing the next morning they’ll wake up the same, is there a high rate of suicides amongst ‘ us ‘? We are strong people living in ‘ it’s ‘ shadow 24/7 but are there weak among ‘ us ‘ who fall to the side ?

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Leonard Hamilton — June 11, 2021 @ 6:11 AM

    • Leonard, you’ll probably find this article revealing: Suicide and Epilepsy https://epilepsytalk.com/2019/08/23/suicide-and-epilepsy-2/

      I think in its way, suicide is a matter of circumstances as well as environment. The chemical side of depression is just part of the equation.

      Take it from one who’s been there. (And, happily, failed.)


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 11, 2021 @ 8:25 AM

      • I know this much. After each of my appointments with my epileptologist, he asked the same question, “Have you thought about suicide?”. I’m sure between our situation and the drugs we take for it, suicide is an issue.

        Call me old-school. Call me an old-fashion Catholic but the one thing that saved me from trying it was my parents pointing out the consequences…if you get what I mean.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Ed Lugge — June 11, 2021 @ 2:40 PM

  4. Reblogged this on Disablities & Mental Health Issues.


    Comment by Kenneth — June 11, 2021 @ 6:54 AM

  5. That’s new for me. Thanks for the insight!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by I Gusti Bagus Ananda — June 20, 2021 @ 10:17 AM

  6. Interesting. I have friends that when I get together with them, we laugh so hard that we call it laugh therapy. But, the laughing gas adds a new light and hope for many, I’m sure. Has to be worth a shot.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Samanthamj — June 23, 2021 @ 11:08 AM

  7. See:



    Even fake laughter is beneficial, it is hard to laugh genuinely when you are depressed …. so fake it!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by MICHAEL H — June 23, 2021 @ 9:38 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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