Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Depression

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Depression is a widespread mental disorder that impacts a significant number of people in the UK, affecting approximately one in six individuals. This disorder is closely linked to other mental health conditions such as anxiety, stress and feelings of isolation.

Since the onset of the pandemic, depression rates across the UK have surged, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. In the summer of 2021, around 17% of adults in the UK reported experiencing some form of depression, a notable increase from the pre-pandemic rate of 10%.

People with depression are likely to feel sad, empty, hopeless and worthless and may experience decreased energy levels and persistent fatigue. Their daily disturbances may include not sleeping at all or sleeping too much, not being able to concentrate or experiencing memory problems. Some might also experience unexplained physical pain or discomfort that cannot be attributed to any specific cause and does not improve with treatment.

What are the major causes of depression?

Depression typically arises from a combination of various factors, with the main causes often linked to:

  • Genetic factors: There is evidence to suggest that genetics play a role in predisposing individuals to depression. People with a family history of depression are more likely to develop the condition themselves.
  • Biological factors: Imbalances in certain chemicals in the brain, such as neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, have been associated with depression. Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy, postpartum or menopause, can also contribute to the development of depression.
  • Environmental factors: Certain life events and experiences can trigger or contribute to depression. These may include traumatic events, significant loss, abuse, neglect, financial difficulties, relationship problems or chronic stress. Living in an environment lacking social support or experiencing ongoing adversity can also increase the risk.
  • Psychological factors: Certain personality traits and psychological vulnerabilities can make individuals more susceptible to depression. Low self-esteem, a negative thinking pattern, a history of trauma or abuse and difficulties in coping with stress can all play a role in the development of depression.

It is common for depression to coexist with other chronic medical conditions. Conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease and Parkinson’s disease can either lead to depression as a symptom of the illness itself or as a result of the medications used to treat these conditions.

What are the general methods used to treat depression?

The primary treatments for depression typically involve medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. In certain cases, when other treatments have not been successful, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can be considered as a complementary treatment.

HBOT helps stimulate neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to reorganise and form new neural connections. By increasing oxygen levels in the brain, HBOT promotes the growth of new blood vessels, reduces inflammation and enhances the production of neurotrophic factors that support neuronal growth and survival. These effects have the potential to restore damaged brain circuits and improve overall brain function, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with depression.

Depression has been linked to chronic inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain. HBOT has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, helping to counteract these processes. By reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, HBOT contributes to a more balanced neurochemical environment, potentially alleviating symptoms of depression.

Studies suggest that individuals with depression may have impaired mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of cells responsible for energy production. HBOT has been shown to enhance mitochondrial activity and energy production by increasing oxygen availability. Improved energy production within brain cells helps restore cellular functioning and improve mood regulation.

HBOT is non-invasive complimentary therapy and studies show it as a promising option for individuals seeking additional support in their depression treatment.

If you have any questions about how HBOT can help you, contact our team on 01962 862 111 or email reception@hybo2.com to book your consultation.

Further reading: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26207174/