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Melbourne researchers trial laughing gas to treat depression

A group of Melbourne researchers believe that nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, may hold the key to treating depression.

Researchers from the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre are conducting a trial using nitrous oxide to treat people with severe depression who haven’t responded to standard therapies.

The project started after researchers decided to investigate anecdotal evidence further.

“Many people have said when they’ve had laughing gas at the dentist they’ve actually felt elevated in mood,” Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, Director of the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, told 3AW Breakfast.

“We thought we should have a think about the chemistry,” she said.

“Nitrous oxide does have a major effect in brain chemistry that we hope will be a lasting effect for people with severe depression,” Professor Kulkarni said.

The Australian trial comes after a similar study at the University of Washington which found two-thirds of people with severe depression who were treated with laughing gas experienced relief from their symptoms.

The Monash Alfred Psychiatry Centre is looking for participants with moderate depression to take part in the study.

If you are interested in being a part of the study you can contact the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre 9076 6564. All participants must have a history of clinical depression and be currently on medication, over the age of 18, and not acutely suicidal.

Press PLAY below to hear Professor Kulkarni on 3AW Breakfast.