Lifestyle

The Emerging Role of Hyperbaric Therapy in Depression Treatment

Hyperbaric Therapy

A patient receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) breaths nearly all medical-grade oxygen in a pressurized hyperbaric chamber or HBOT chamber. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) was first used to treat decompression sickness, but it has since been utilized to treat a variety of illnesses. Moreover, hyperbaric oxygen treatment fortifies the immune system by promoting the body’s generation of white blood cells.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) reduces the swelling of injured blood vessels while flooding the body’s tissue with oxygen. The air pressure is two to three times greater than ambient air pressure in a hyperbaric chamber. Your lungs can absorb a lot more oxygen in these circumstances than they could if you were to breathe pure oxygen at standard air pressure.

Studies on depression have looked at MRI images of people with depression and found variations in blood flow to the brain, namely to the prefrontal cortex. Thus, the possibility that hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) may be used to treat depression has been raised. Although much of the research on HBOT’s impact on depression is still in its early stages, but the results have been encouraging thus far. Numerous studies demonstrate that receiving frequent hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments over a few weeks can occasionally alleviate depressive symptoms almost as much as more conventional approaches like psychotherapy.

HBOT has the advantage that its effects last even after the treatments end. Patients continue to improve their lives for months or years at a time. Psychiatrists discovered that treating mentally sad individuals with hyperbaric oxygen treatment in addition to their usual therapy generated amazing outcomes.

What Is the Process of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

By delivering oxygen-rich plasma to tissue that is oxygen-starved, HBOT promotes wound healing. Damage to the body’s blood vessels results in the leakage of fluid into the tissues, causing edema. Tissue begins to perish as a result of this swelling depriving the injured cells of oxygen. HBOT fills the tissues with oxygen and lessens edema. The blood contains more oxygen because of the chamber’s increased pressure. The goal of HBOT is to end the vicious cycle of tissue death, edema, and oxygen shortage.

  • Treatment with hyperbaric oxygen prevents “reperfusion injury.” This is the serious tissue damage that happens when the tissues that have been depleted of oxygen get their blood supply back. For instance, a sequence of events within the injured cells releases toxic oxygen radicals when blood flow is disrupted by a crush injury. These substances have irreversible effects on tissues. They force the blood arteries to constrict, halting the flow of blood. HBOT encourages the body’s defence mechanisms against oxygen radicals to locate the offending molecules and facilitate the healing process.

  • Hyperbaric oxygen treatment strengthens the immune system and aids in halting the growth of dangerous microorganisms. Certain bacteria’s toxins can be neutralized by HBOT. Additionally, it raises the tissues’ concentration of oxygen. They can fend off infections by doing this. Furthermore, the treatment enhances white blood cells’ capacity to identify and eliminate intruders.

  • New skin cells and collagen are encouraged to develop by hyperbaric oxygen treatment.  It achieves this by promoting the growth of new blood vessels. Additionally, it permits the production of specific materials by cells, such as vascular endothelial growth factors. These draw in and excite the endothelial cells that are necessary for healing.

Side Effects of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

HBOT may have adverse effects, much like any medical treatment, although they are usually mild or transient. It will be beneficial to be aware of these typical hyperbaric adverse effects.

Mild hyperbaric oxygen treatment is not without its adverse effects, some of which are more serious than others.

  • Ear Pain: Middle earache is the most frequent adverse effect, however, it is not fatal and usually goes away rather soon. This is typically more of an issue for patients during the first few appointments, and it will eventually go away.

  • Claustrophobia: The therapy may also cause claustrophobia as a side effect. Partial confinement anxiety may be brought on by claustrophobia, which is estimated to affect 2% of all patients. 

  • Congestion, cold, or flu: Before administering an HBOT, doctors should enquire about the patient’s history of fever, sinus or nasal congestion, chest congestion, or cold or flu symptoms.

  • Pregnancy: It is necessary to enquire with the patient about the possibility that she is carrying a child.

  • Vision changes: Minor and transient changes in vision are another common adverse effect of HBOT treatment. These changes typically manifest as nearsightedness (myopia), which brings alterations in the eye’s lens.

Depression Treatment with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Among the most prevalent mood disorders is major depressive disorder (MDD). Depression can have a wide range of symptoms, but the main ones include loss of motivation, despair, and a lingering sense of melancholy. It is crucial to address depression for the sake of your physical and mental well-being.

Through a reduction in inflammation, hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) may be able to alleviate the symptoms of depression. The exact pathophysiology of depression is still understood, however, research indicates that pro-inflammatory markers are overexpressed in the peripheral body and central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Effective in Treating Depression?

For those with depression who require more than just psychotherapy and medicine, hyperbaric oxygen therapy for depression (HBOT) can be incredibly helpful. Research is ongoing to assess the therapeutic effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen treatment for mental health conditions including depression; nonetheless, there are theories that it may influence neurotransmitters, alter immunity, and mobilize stem cells to wounded body areas.

Recent research sought to determine if using HBOT in conjunction with escitalopram, a popular SSRI medicine used to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder would be beneficial in treating individuals with depression. After four to six weeks, the therapy was shown to be beneficial in considerably enhancing the cognitive function of the patients.

Further research examined the impact of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on nerve function following incomplete spinal cord injury (ISCI) and psychological problems such as sadness and anxiety. Following an eight-week course of treatment, outcomes demonstrated that HBOT markedly improved nerve function and the patient’s capacity to do everyday tasks, while also treating depression and anxiety at a level comparable to psychotherapy.

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