BGU researchers testing oxygen as depression treatment

As oxygen therapy is easy, non-invasive and safe, they will now try it on patients with low- and medium-level depression.

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October 26, 2015 00:00
1 minute read.
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After “significant improvements” were demonstrated by Ben-Gurion University researchers in the condition of schizophrenic patients who underwent oxygen therapy, they will now try it out on sufferers of depression.

The latest issue of the in-house Alef, Bet Gimmel magazine reported that improvements in schizophrenia patients exposed to high levels of oxygen were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

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Yehudit Bloch, a doctoral student in BGU’s Health Sciences Faculty, said that exposing psychiatric patients to a 40 percent concentration of oxygen in the air instead of its normal 21% – via an ordinary plastic tube instead of in a high-pressure (hyperbaric) oxygen chamber – is very safe and effective.

Those schizophrenia patients who breathed air with 40% oxygen functioned significantly better than those who inhaled ordinary air, BGU researcher Prof.Pesach Shvartzman found.

As oxygen therapy is easy, non-invasive and safe, they will now try it on patients with low- and medium-level depression.

The study was approved by the BGU Helsinki Committee on Human Medical Experimentation and will be carried out under supervision from Prof. Yuly Bersuedsky of the Beersheba Mental Health Center and others.

Research in recent years has found a connection between an inadequate supply of oxygen to the brain and poor function of the mitochrondria (energy-producing fibers) in the cells. This can disrupt the functioning of neurons and the electrical activity of the brain, said Shvartzman.

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Thus raising the amount of oxygen inhaled by the patient can improve psychiatric functioning, he said.

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