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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.

Fifty-five patients were divided into two groups: The first was treated with oxygen-enriched air, 35% oxygen, and the other with room air with 21% oxygen for 7-8 hours per night over the course of a month. After treatment, depressive symptoms were reduced on several measurement scales.

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“As a proof-of-concept, our results are promising. Increasing the fraction of oxygen in the inhaled air reduces symptoms of depression,” said 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” Azab underscored.

The oxygen was administered under normal atmospheric conditions, which avoided the inherent dangers of hyperbaric chambers.

Abnormal cellular energy metabolism due to functional deficiency in oxygen supply and/or mitochondrial dysfunction may lead to alterations in neuronal function, plasticity and brain circuitry.

The oxygen enriched air may increase oxygen pressure in brain tissue and have biochemical effects.

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