Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for 

Mental illnesses such as generalized anxiety disorder, depression, autism spectrum disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder account for a large number of patient load in the hospitals. The medical treatment of these conditions is not very promising. However, some efficacy has been proven in implying the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to cure mental illness including post-traumatic stress disorder. It does this by supplying oxygen under high pressures and helps improve cerebral function and the effective release of neurotransmitters. 

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is an innovative procedure that provides oxygen under high pressure, typically 1.5 to 3 times the normal atmospheric pressure. There are a few contraindications to the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It cannot be implied in the healing of brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, stroke, heart disease, certain type of lung disease or HIV infections. 

How does hyperbaric oxygen therapy provide the mental health benefits?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy provides the mental health benefits in the following ways:

  1. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps improve neurocognitive functions by delivering oxygen to the brain tissues under high partial pressure of oxygen which stimulates the oxygen sensitive and pressure sensitive genes. 
  2. HBOT helps mobilize the stem cells to the injured tissues and stimulates the release of neurotransmitters which improves the symptoms.
  3. When a certain tissue of the body is injured, it releases harmful chemicals called free radicals that impart a great deal of damage to the tissues. This results in blood vessels to clump and stop blood supply and oxygen delivery to the injured tissues. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy identifies these problem molecules and removes them from the site to replenish the area with oxygen.
  4. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy encourages formation of new blood vessels and new skin cells. Moreover, it also encourages formation of collagen and stimulates production of certain factors, called vascular endothelial growth factor which stimulates the endothelial cells to fasten the healing process.
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What to expect during the hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Individuals undergoing the Hyperbaric oxygen therapy sit or lay down in the hyperbaric oxygen chambers and receive oxygen under high-pressure. Only doctors or your healthcare providers can prescribe this therapy. You need to wear a medical gown that is 100% cotton. You should expect a procedure of 45 minutes or a maximum of 300 minutes. It is essential to see the doctor 5 days a week for 4 to 6 weeks. But this totally depends on the treatment plan. The hyperbaric oxygen chamber supplies increased amounts of oxygen to the injured tissue to hasten the recovery process. Your ears may feel plugged as you experience in an air flight or during scuba diving. Swallowing or chewing gum will unplug the ears.

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for  1

This procedure can prove to be a bit difficult for people suffering from claustrophobia. These individuals can opt for R3 chambers which are more spacious and provide a better experience. You can listen to music, watch TV or even sleep inside the chamber while the therapy continues.

What are the side effects of this procedure?

The side effects of HBOT include:

  1. Headache
  2. Fatigue
  3. Lightheadedness
  4. Trauma to middle ear
  5. Lung collapse
  6. Sinus problems
  7. Eye damage
  8. Low blood sugar
  9. Vision problems
  10. Oxygen poisoning (Symptoms include fluid in lungs, seizures and lung failure)

What are the other treatments as an adjunct to Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

New trials have suggested the combined use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and escitalopram which is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) which is a pharmacological to treat depression and anxiety. This combination has provided effective results in reducing the symptoms of a medical illness such as anxiety or depression. Following HBOT, the patients suffering from depression noted improvement in their symptoms and reduction in suicidal thoughts.

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What are the other methods to treat mental health illnesses?

Depression is treated with a variety of ways such as medical therapy, psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy or a combination of these. These treatments have not proven very beneficial for completely curing the illnesses and there was a need to improvise better treatments for a better cure.

A Little Apprehension:

Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy (HBOT) is an excellent therapy to cure certain mental illnesses namely, generalized anxiety disorder, autism spectrum disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. This procedure uses oxygen under high partial pressures which delivers the oxygen in increased amounts to the required tissues. This fastens the recovery and healing process, improves neurocognitive functions of the brain, mobilizes the stem cells and stimulates the release of neurotransmitter within the brain. HBOT can be used as an adjunctive therapy with other medical or pharmacological treatments.  However, this procedure cannot be implied in the treatment of brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or stroke. 

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