Q Fever! Medical Humor & Satire

October 4, 2000 | Volume 1, Issue 9

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Nitrous Oxide May Be Effective For Depression

Thrice-daily administration turns frowns into smiles

SEATTLE, WA—Researchers at the University of Washington Medical Center announced Friday that nitrous oxide, a commonly used anesthetic for dental procedures, may be a potent and effective treatment for refractory clinical depression.

Nitrous oxide (N2O), often called "laughing gas" due to its ability to elicit uncontrollable laughter and hysteria from subjects, has for many years been a mainstay of dental anesthesia, where it has been proven to be safe and useful in a monitored setting.

When inhaled by depressed individuals, N2O appears to induce smiles, grins, chuckles, and/or gut-busting laughter within seconds, followed by a rapid decrease in feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, and worthlessness.

According to researchers, there is also an associated 90-96% reduction in anxiety, restlessness, and irritability; furthermore, depression-related insomnia is unfailingly eradicated quickly and completely.

Initial optimism regarding these findings, however, has been tempered by the subsequent discovery of a plethora of untoward side effects, including disorientation, auditory and visual hallucinations, oxygen desaturation, and ataxia.
A day's supply of depression-curing nitrous oxide

A day's supply of
nitrous oxide

Added to these is the likely requirement for depressed individuals to visit their dentist three times a day, every day, in order to receive inhalations of the colorless, sweet-smelling gas.

Perhaps the most difficult task facing the N2O research team will be that of convincing FDA officials to allow them to continue their research, which has thus far been mainly upon themselves and their family members, in unsupervised settings - a clear violation of state and federal statutes regarding N2O dispensing and usage.

Says lead researcher Joseph Davy, MD, "They'll probably strip our licenses for this... then, for sure we'll all be going to prison for a long, long time - the question, really, is when."

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