Oxygen Enriched Air Delivers a Beneficial Effect for Those with Depression

January 17, 2022

“Normobaric” Oxygen is Different from Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment 

Individuals with autism are four times as likely to experience depression compared to people without the disorder. Given this statistic, a new pilot trial out of Israel is particularly relevant for the autism community. In the study, Israeli researchers discovered that treating mild to moderately depressed individuals with oxygen-enriched air provided beneficial effects on some depression symptoms. The trial involved delivering oxygen at normal atmospheric pressure at a moderately higher concentration than ambient air. This practice is also known as “normobaric” oxygen, which should not be confused with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) that uses pure oxygen at air pressures 1.5 to 3 times higher than normal. Fifty-one participants completed the trial which exposed 29 participants to oxygen-enriched air (35% oxygen) and 22 participants to ambient air (21% oxygen). The ambient air served as the placebo. Both types of oxygen were delivered through the same type of nasal tube at night, which was worn for 7-8 hours per night over a 4 week period. In the end, 69% of the participants who received the enriched oxygen demonstrated improvements over the 4 weeks, compared to only 23% of the control group. The benefits experienced by the nomobaric oxygen exposed participants were improvements in depressive and anxiety symptoms as well as in “cognitive disturbance,” which included a decrease in suicidal thoughts, feelings of guilt and insomnia. The research team theorizes that the benefits seen in normobaric oxygen therapy could be due to an improvement in the functioning of mitochondria. Mitochondrial dysfunction has often been linked to autism spectrum disorder. Ultimately, the results of this pilot study were encouraging to the research team who view normobaric oxygen as a simple, non-invasive and safe therapy. They call for further exploration into the treatment and larger replication studies.  

 Original Article 

 Original Study 

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