Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work For Depression?

Depression is a mental condition that results in symptoms like a sad mood, less interest in daily activities, a sense of worthlessness, and in extreme cases, suicidal thoughts.

Depression is a complex disorder, and the treatment regime often takes a long time to show effects. In some cases, the treatment plan might not show any improvements at all. Hence, doctors try out different treatment paradigms to help their patients deal with the symptoms of depression.

Hyperbaric oxygen chambers supply pure oxygen at high pressure. Oxygen supply at high pressure improves the oxygen concentration in the blood. Increased blood oxygen levels have been shown to enhance tissue growth, boost immunity, etc.

However, some recent studies have reported that these chambers improve the mental states of patients who suffer from depression. Hence, if you want to use a hyperbaric chamber to treat depression-related disorders, you can go to

Hyperbaric Chambers And Mood Related Disorders

Most doctors use a multipronged approach to deal with the symptoms of depression. Most doctors use medicines that increase the levels of serotonin in the blood. Serotonin is also known as the ”happy hormone”. It uplifts mood and makes people feel happy.

Apart from medicines, doctors use counseling or psychological therapy. Here the counselor talks to patients to understand their problems and make them feel better.

Hyperbaric chambers are often used in combination with medicines and counseling sessions to improve treatment outcomes.

Ways In Which Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Can Help Depressed Patients


It Modulates The Immune Response Of The Body

High concentration of oxygen has multiple effects on the immune system of the body. High oxygen concentration in the blood is known to increase the ability of the body’s immune cells ( like the white blood cells) to find and kill harmful bacteria.

High oxygen concentration also affects the production and functioning of interleukins. Interleukins are chemicals that modulate the immune response of the body. High levels of oxygen have been linked to increased production of some interleukins like interleukin 17 or IL17. At the same time, it has also been shown to decrease the production of interleukin 10 or IL10.

Thus, a hyperbaric chamber affects the immune cells and immunological proteins of a body in a differential manner. Researchers have not been able to pinpoint the exact mechanism via which immune cells improve mood. However, in many patients with mood-related disorders, the improvement in mood has been correlated with a change in the immune reactions of the body.

It Controls Inflammation In The Brain

In many studies, the onset of depression has been correlated with inflammatory reactions in many parts of the brain. Breathing pure oxygen at high concentrations reduces inflammation. Inflammation is known to cut off the supply of oxygen to the inflamed body parts. If the oxygen supply is cut out for a long time, it results in cell death. Hence, many researchers believe that controlling brain inflammation can improve mental disorders outcomes.

It Boosts The Production Of Stem Cells


Most brain cells do not divide to form new cells after an individual’s birth. However, some regions of the brain have stem cells. These stem cells are immature cells that can divide further to produce new brain cells.

Many doctors believe that breathing pure oxygen at high concentrations improves the mobilization of the stem cells in the brain. Newly mobilized stem cells can divide to form new neurons (nerve cells). The more the number of neurons, the higher the chances of forming neuronal connections that transmit information in the brain.

The addition of new stem cells improves the outcomes of mental disorders. Hence, hyperbaric chambers might help treat depression by improving the mobilization of stem cells in the brain.

It Can Increase The Production Of Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters like Glutamine, Glycine, and Epinephrine transmit signals in the brain. Some neurotransmitters like glutamine can be excitatory; that is, they allow the transmission of a particular signal in the brain. Whereas some other neurotransmitters like GABA are inhibitory, that is, they prevent the transmission of signals in the brain.

An imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters is known to be a cause of depression. Hyperbaric oxygen chambers have been shown to increase the production of some neurotransmitters; hence these chambers might be effective in treating the symptoms of mental disorders.

It Might Improve Synaptic Activity

A synapse is a junction between two neuronal cells. The brain controls the entire body through many such synaptic connections between neuronal cells. Changes in the synaptic density are known to be a cause of mental disorders.

Hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments have been correlated with changes in the synapses. Hence, these chambers might help treat the symptoms of depression by modulating the synapse between two neurons.


Why Do People Doubt The Effectiveness Of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy In Treating Depression

Many people doubt the effectiveness of hyperbaric chambers in treating mental health issues because the mechanism by which the high concentration of oxygen affects brain functions is still unknown. The brain is a highly complicated organ, and it is highly unlikely that a single factor controls the outcomes of a mental disorder. Hence, as researchers keep finding new clues related to depression and hyperbaric oxygen treatment, the treatment will get more acceptability among the public at large.


Depression is a complicated and serious mental disorder. Most people fail to recognize that they are depressed. There is still a prevalent societal taboo against depression, and many people are hesitant to seek treatment. However, the perspective towards depression is changing, and so are the treatment regimes.

Many doctors are suggesting newer methods, like breathing pure air at high concentrations, to treat depression. It is estimated that 6% of the global population suffered from some symptoms of depression in the year 2021. As time progresses, the prevalence of mental disorders might increase further; hence doctors and patients should be enthusiastic about new treatment regimes that offer a ray of hope in dealing with mental health issues like depression.