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 the DIY body oxygen test:
- Breathing norms: Parameters, graph, and description of the normal breathing pattern
- Body-oxygen test (CP test) : How to measure your own breathing and body oxygenation (two in one) using a simple DIY test
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 body tissues
- Nerve stabilization: Carbon dioxide has powerful calmative and sedative effects on brain neurons and nerve cells
Go back to Breathing Techniques
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