Depression Causes: Low Brain O2 and CO2
Definition of depression
Depression is defined as an abnormal state of the mind or mental state of the person characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest.
Common symptoms and signs of depression:
- Low or irritable mood present most of the time
- A loss of pleasure in usual daily activities (work, exercise, hobbies, games, and so on)
- Tiredness and lack of energy
- A change in appetite, usually with weight gain (rarely weight loss)
- Poor quality of sleep and/or sleeping too much
- Feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, hopelessness, and guilt
- Difficulty concentrating
- Too slow or too fast movements
- Lack of activity and avoiding usual activities.
Inability or greatly reduced ability to deal with life problems is quite a common sign of depression even though the general individual picture varies.
What are causes of depression?
All available medical evidence suggests that depression is possible only when the brain has reduced levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Low brain oxygenation (brain hypoxia) leads to anaerobic cell respiration in nerve cells and low pH (acidic cell environment), while low CO2 (hypocapnia) causes overexcited states of nervous cells. Chronic fatigue and problems with sleep are other classical signs of chronic deep breathing (see this link for more details: click here).
Overbreathing is manifested in less than 30 seconds for the body-oxygen test. People with more than 30 s for the body-oxygen test have good quality of sleep, good energy levels, satisfactory concentration, and are able to find the constructive ways to deal with reality.
Therefore, while many other factors may look like triggers or causes of depression (e.g., death of a spouse, job loss, and so on), the real physiological causes relate to ineffective automatic breathing patterns and abnormal respiratory mechanics including chest breathing, mouth breathing and chronic hyperventilation (breathing more than the medical norms).
Treatment of depression
In agreement with Western studies (Mora et al, 1976; Damas-Mora et al, 1982; Tweeddale et al, 1994), clinical observations by about 200 Russian doctors practicing the Buteyko breathing method suggest that depression is a sign of hyperventilation. It is common in people who, apart from chronic overbreathing, experienced abuse, trauma, and other types of physiological, physical and emotional stress. Depression gradually disappears with breathing normalization. Most people with depression require more than 25-30 s for the body-oxygen test in order to be free from their symptoms (cure or clinical remission).
Furthermore, application of resistive breathing devices (such as the Frolov device, Samozdrav, Amazing DIY breathing device, and many others) provide faster recovery rates in comparison with the classical Buteyko method. Practically, it is noticed that physical exercise with strictly nasal breathing and perspiration has a profound effect on fast recovery from depression. However, bear in mind that other lifestyle changes (see the Section Learning) are necessary for complete remission of main symptoms of depression.
Apart from this physiological approach, New Decision Therapy (based on elimination of traumas and forgiveness) is very effective in elimination of past traumas and boosting the mood and life outlook in the depressed person. In my view, this is the only forgiveness therapy (or energy release technique) that involves clearing 3 layers of denial and testing weak body points before the teacher proceeds to finding the traumatic event in the past of the student.
Br J Psychiatry. 1976 Nov;129:457-64.
Respiratory ventilation and carbon dioxide levels in syndromes of depression.
Mora JD, Grant L, Kenyon P, Patel MK, Jenner FA.
The breathing rate and PCO2 in end-tidal air have been studied in controls and in patients with endogenous depression (retarded and non-retarded), with neurotic depression, and with schizophrenia. It has been shown that breathing rate goes up and PCO2 down in non-retarded and neurotic depression. Schizophrenia gives more anomalous results. The fact is emphasized that such changes must lead to alterations in pH and other variables. Studies showing some small chemical differences between these clinical entities and control subjects might therefore be explained by these findings.
J Psychosom Res. 1982;26(2):237-45.
Diminished hypercapnic drive in endogenous or severe depression.
Damas-Mora J, Souster L, Jenner FA.
Resting breathing rate, resting end-tidal PCO2 and ventilatory response to CO2 were studied in patients with primary depression. Patients tended to breathe faster and showed decreased PECO2 levels when compared with control subjects. Carbon dioxide response was determined using a modification of the rebreathing technique of Read. Endogenous depressives, unlike reactive depressives, tended to give low CO2 responses and low CO2 thresholds. Carbon dioxide responses of patients on admission correlated highly with severity of depression. The modification of the standard rebreathing technique, and the relationship between CO2 response and physical and psychological variables are discussed.
J Psychosom Res. 1994 Jan;38(1):11-21.
Breathing retraining: effect on anxiety and depression scores in behavioural breathlessness.
Tweeddale PM, Rowbottom I, McHardy GJ.
Thirty-six patients underwent assessment of behavioural breathlessness which included monitoring of breathing patterns and end tidal CO2 concentration and completion of questionnaires relating to hyperventilation (HV), anxiety and depression. Twenty-two patients had a positive assessment and underwent breathing retraining. Assessments were repeated immediately after re-training and 2 months later. Ten of the patients (Group A) had behavioural breathlessness either as the primary problem or secondary to an established clinical condition, and twelve (Group B) in association with chronic fatigue. Before re-training, resting end-tidal PCO2 was significantly lower in Group A than Group B (p < 0.05), but there was no significant difference in mean scores for HV-related symptoms, anxiety or depression. Following breathing retraining, both groups showed improvements in breathing patterns, end tidal CO2 levels and scores for HV-related symptoms which were sustained. In Group A the mean score for anxiety decreased (p < 0.01) and the score for depression was significantly lower than in Group B (p < 0.05). Although mean scores for anxiety and depression in Group B did not change significantly, some individuals in the group did show sustained improvement. There was no improvement in symptoms associated with chronic fatigue in Group B. In behavioural breathlessness, breathing retraining is of benefit, not only in restoring more normal patterns of breathing but also in reducing anxiety, particularly in patients without the complication of chronic fatigue.
Reference pages: Breathing norms and medical facts:
- Breathing norms: Parameters, graph, and description of the normal breathing pattern
- 6 breathing myths: Myths and superstitions about breathing and body oxygenation (prevalence: over 90%)
- Hyperventilation: Definitions of hyperventilation: their advantages and weak points
- Hyperventilation syndrome: Western scientific evidence about prevalence of chronic hyperventilation in patients with chronic conditions (37 medical studies)
- Normal minute ventilation: Small and slow breathing at rest is enjoyed by healthy subjects (14 studies)
- Hyperventilation prevalence: Present in over 90% of normal people (24 medical studies)
- HV and hypoxia: How and why deep breathing reduces oxygenation of cells and tissues of all vital organs
- Body-oxygen test (CP test) : How to measure your own breathing and body oxygenation (two in one) using a simple DIY test
- Body oxygen in healthy: Results for the body-oxygen test for healthy people (27 medical studies)
- Body oxygen in sick : Results for the body-oxygen test for sick people (14 medical studies)
- Buteyko Table of Health Zones: Clinical description and ranges for breathing zones: from the critically ill (severely sick) up to super healthy people with maximum possible body oxygenation
- Morning hyperventilation: Why people feel worse and critically ill people are most likely to die during early morning hours
References: pages about CO2 effect:
- Vasodilation: CO2 expands arteries and arterioles facilitating perfusion (or blood supply) to all vital organs
- The Bohr effect: How and why oxygen is released by red blood cells in tissues
- Cell oxygen levels: How alveolar CO2 influences oxygen transport
- Oxygen transport: O2 transport is controlled by vasoconstriction-vasodilation and the Bohr effects, both of which rely on CO2
- Free radical generation: Reactive oxygen species are produced within cells due to anaerobic cell respiration caused by cell hypoxia
- Inflammatory response: Chronic inflammation in fueled by the hypoxia-inducible factor 1, while normal breathing reduces and eliminates inflammation
- Nerve stabilization: People remain calm due to calmative or sedative effects of carbon dioxide in neurons or nerve cells
- Muscle relaxation: Relaxation of muscle cells is normal at high CO2, while hypocapnia causes muscular tension, poor posture and, sometimes, aggression and violence
- Bronchodilation: Dilation of airways (bronchi and bronchioles) is caused by carbon dioxide, and their constriction by hypocapnia (low CO2)
- Blood pH: Regulation of blood pH due to breathing and regulation of other bodily fluids
- CO2: lung damage: Elevated carbon dioxide prevents lung injury and promotes healing of lung tissues
- CO2: Topical carbon dioxide can heal skin and tissues
- Synthesis of glutamine in the brain, CO2 fixation, and other chemical reactions
- Deep breathing myth: Ignorant and naive people promote the idea that deep breathing and breathing more air at rest is beneficial for health
- Breathing control: How is our breathing regulated? Why hypocapnia makes breathing uneven, irregular and erratic.
Go back to Breathing Techniques
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