Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a type of treatment that involves an individual breathing in almost 100% medical-grade oxygen in a pressurized hyperbaric chamber. This form of treatment was originally used to cater to skydivers in treating decompression sickness. However, over the years, it has also proven effective in treating various medical conditions.
HBOT packs the body’s tissues with a lot of oxygen; while also reducing the inflammation of damaged blood vessels. When you’re in for an HBOT season, your lungs accumulate a sufficient amount of oxygen that tends to be more when compared to the normal oxygen we breathe daily.
Multiple studies on depression have taken a closer check at MRI scans of the depressed, after which it was discovered that there’s a total change in the blood flow to the brain, the prefrontal cortex in particular. To this effect, it has been said that HBOT could help treat this condition. Though most research on the effect of HBOT on depression is still preliminary, it has by far been effective. Some studies show that regular HBOT treatments over multiple weeks can positively reduce the symptoms of depression.
BUT HOW DOES HYPERBARIC TREATMENT WORK?
During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the patient goes into a specialized chamber to breathe pure oxygen for a period, most times 15-20minutes. In a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, like this one https://oxyhelp.com/hyperbaric-oxygen-chambers/, users are exposed to a high oxygen air pressure of 1.5 to 3 times higher than average. This helps fill the blood with oxygen to fill damaged tissues with oxygen-rich plasma.
In the early years, HBOT was used in treating respiratory systems, and it became an ideal navy treatment for decompression sickness in deep-sea divers. Currently, HBOT has been proven effective in treating various conditions. Some of the benefits attached to HBOT include improved circulation, fostering the healing of wounds, and boosting neurological health. Due to the effect of HBOT on the brain, scientists have been testing its effects on depression. Though just a limited number of studies show the link between HBOT and depression, discoveries so far have been promising.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Depression is said to be a mood disorder that leads to a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in everything. Also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it has an impact on how you feel, how you think, and also behave. This leads to a variety of physical and emotional issues.
WHAT ARE THE NOTABLE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION?
A depressed patient is prone to experience a number of the following symptoms at most times of the day, almost every day for at least two weeks. These symptoms include;
- Having the feeling of;
- Helpless or guilty.
- He will have zero interest or enjoyment in his usual hobbies and activities.
- Have a decreased energy level or fatigue.
- He tends to move slowly or talk sluggishly.
- Experience difficulty in concentrating, remembering, or making viable decisions.
- Have trouble sleeping, wakes up too early, or oversleep at times.
- Have a constant change in weight or appetite.
- Always have thoughts of death or suicide, or even attempt suicide.
- Have physical aches and pains with no notable causes.
Every patient experiences these symptoms in a different amount, frequency, or severity, but most patient experiences ones that are highly severe enough to disrupt their day-to-day activities. This leaves a poor feeling in them with no notable cause.
WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?
A wide variety of factors mostly causes depression; however, the notable cause of this mood disorder is normally related to the following factors;
At times depression might be a symptom of some chronic conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
HOW CAN I TREAT DEPRESSION?
Even when severe, depression can still be treated; and at most times via medication, psychotherapy, or the use of both. In some rare cases, brain stimulation therapies like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can also help reduce the symptoms. Some patients even go the extra mile in seeking out treatment methods like hyperbaric oxygen therapy to help relieve certain symptoms or aid in boosting the speed of other treatments.
CAN HBOT HELP WITH DEPRESSION?
HBOT can be highly beneficial to patients suffering from depression which requires additional treatment aside from medication and psychotherapy. A few encouraging studies in recent history highlight that HBOT could be an ideal treatment for depression.
The most notable study is that of 2017, which looked into 60 patients suffering from spinal cord injury, depression, and anxiety. These patients were randomly divided into three groups; 20:20:20. The first 20 received conventional rehabilitation, 20 received HBOT, and the last 20 received conventional rehabilitation. This research was carried out for eight weeks, after which the level of anxiety and depression were reduced in the HBOT group and the psychotherapy group, but the conventional group remained the same.
The level of depression and anxiety in the psychotherapy group and HBOT group were the same after eight weeks. This shows that HBOT is a viable option for psychotherapy to help with depression and anxiety.
In 2015 a separate study was carried out to check the effect of HBOT on post-stroke depression. This time, 90 patients with post-stroke depression were grouped into three: one HBOT treatment, group one fluoxetine treatment group, and the last, a combination of both the HBOT and fluoxetine groups. Though all three groups showed good improvements, the combined group showed the highest progress. This shows that HBOT might be a good supplement for depression treatment. Also, a single group study of military members diagnosed with traumatic brain injury (TSI) and PTSD. After going through HBOT, the patients experienced a good reduction in depression.
In as much as this research shows good results, it is essential to note that most of this research on HBOT and depression was carried out on patients with pre-existing health issues that affect brain functions. To this effect, it is unclear whether patients without these issues would have some impact. However, the results postulate that HBOT may cause damage to the brain, which could significantly reduce the symptoms of depression and other related mental health issues like PTSD and anxiety.
Though strong research is still needed, there is a high probability that HBOT could be the best treatment for depression. If you’re interested in getting this therapy, do well to book a consultation with a qualified health professional to know if it’ll suit you.