skip to Main Content

Depression and HBOT

Depression and HBOT

Depression is a common mental health conditions that by some estimates affects as many as 30% of veterans. It’s important to note that depression among veterans can be influenced by various factors, including combat exposure, traumatic experiences, physical injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), transition to civilian life, and other challenges unique to military service.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been explored as a treatment option for depression. A growing number of studies suggest significant benefits in depression, sleep quality and satisfaction with life.The therapy involves administering oxygen in excess of  at high atmospheric pressures in a controlled environment, which can significantly increase oxygen saturation in the body’s tissues, including the brain.

      Mechanisms of Action:

1. Increased Brain Oxygenation: HBOT can enhance the oxygenation of brain tissue, which may help in alleviating symptoms of depression. Increased oxygen levels can improve mitochondrial function and energy production in brain cells, potentially stabilizing mood and cognitive functions.

2. Neuroplasticity: There is evidence that HBOT can promote neuroplasticity, which involves the formation of new neural connections. This can be beneficial in the recovery from depressive symptoms, as depression is often linked with reduced neuroplasticity.

3. Reduction of Inflammation: Chronic inflammation has been associated with depression. HBOT has  anti-inflammatory that may help reduce systemic inflammation, including within the central nervous system, potentially alleviating depressive symptoms.

4. Stress Response Modulation: HBOT may influence the body’s stress response system, including the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is often dysregulated in individuals with depression.

      Clinical Evidence:

Post-Stroke Depression: Studies have specifically looked at the effects of HBOT on post-stroke depression

(PSD), finding that it can improve depressive symptoms as well as neurological function in these patients.

General Depression: While there is some evidence from clinical trials suggesting that HBOT can relieve

symptoms of depression and anxiety, the data is still not extensive. Most studies have been small and have

varied in methodology, making it difficult to draw definitive conclusions.


Cost and Accessibility: One of the limitations of HBOT is its cost and the need for specialized equipment,

which may not be readily available in all treatment settings.

Safety and Tolerability: While generally considered safe, HBOT can have side effects such as ear discomfort,

sinus pressure, and, in rare cases, more serious effects like oxygen toxicity.

In summary, there is growing body of promising evidence regarding the use of HBOT in treating depression, especially in specific contexts like post-stroke depression, further research is needed to fully establish its efficacy, optimal protocols, and long-term benefits in broader depressive disorders. Clinicians should weigh the benefits against the potential risks and costs when considering HBOT for depression.

Back To Top