Depressed patients who received oxygen-enriched air treatment for a month found their symptoms improved, according to a new proof-of-concept study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers.
Their findings were reported recently in Scientific Reports.
Fifty-five patients were divided into two groups: The first was treated with oxygen-enriched air (35% oxygen) and the other with room/normal air (21% oxygen) for 7-8 hours per night over the course of a month. After treatment, depressive symptoms were reduced on several measurement scales.
“As a proof-of-concept, our results are promising. Increasing the fraction of oxygen in the inhaled air reduces symptoms of depression,” says lead researcher Dr. Abed N. Azab, “Of course, there is much more to discover. Would longer treatments be even more beneficial? Would higher oxygen concentrations better improve symptoms or not?”
“Importantly, the administration of oxygen was safe and did not cause adverse effects” adds Dr. Azab.
The oxygen was administered under normal atmospheric conditions, which avoided the inherent dangers of hyperbaric chambers.
Dr. Azab is a member of the Department of Nursing in the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Additional researchers include Yehudit Bloch, Prof. R. H. Belmaker, Prof. Pesach Shvartzman, the late Dr. Pnina Romem, Dr. Arkady Bolotin, and Prof. Yuly Bersudsky.