Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is an innovative approach to healing many physical and mental health conditions. HBOT is a technique that has been used in the United States for decades to treat several conditions, and the science behind HBOT continues to grow every year.

What is HBOT, how is it used in mental health treatment, and what benefits does science show for helping you achieve your holistic health goals?

What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

HBOT is a style of therapy that aids the body in healing itself. Oxygen is a key component of tissue repair, used throughout the body to help heal from any number of injuries or conditions. By providing the body with a surplus of oxygen stores, your blood cells and muscle tissue can accelerate their own healing process.

To achieve these surplus stores of oxygen, a client receiving HBOT enters a specialized chamber. The chamber is filled with almost pure oxygen at pressures roughly two to three times higher than regular atmospheric pressure, which drives oxygen into the lungs, your bloodstream, and ultimately throughout the tissues and cells of your body.

Your body can then use this excess oxygen to help accelerate the healing process. These excess oxygen stores reach every part of your body — lungs, blood, brain, and every muscle tissue and organ.

HBOT has been a FDA-approved treatment for a number of physical health issues for decades. It has been used to treat conditions such as:

  • Decompression sickness (often seen in scuba divers)
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Diabetic wounds
  • Necrotizing soft tissue infections
  • Reduced arterial blood flow
  • Bone infections
  • Anemia
  • Burns

For every one of these conditions, HBOT has shown significant clinical benefit for treating the underlying cause. The increased oxygen levels help accelerate or kickstart a healing process, allowing these conditions to heal rapidly.

The success of HBOT treatment for these conditions has quickly sparked interest in using HBOT to treat a number of other conditions as well. When HBOT is used to treat conditions not yet approved by the FDA, it’s known as an “off-label” HBOT treatment. This doesn’t mean these treatments are ineffective — just that they have not gone through the rigorous and time-consuming process of achieving FDA approval.

What Happens in a Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Session?

An HBOT session typically lasts about an hour and a half. All that’s required of clients during this time is to lay inside the HBOT chamber while the ambient oxygen and pressure levels increase and reach optimal levels to promote healing.

Clients are allowed to do whatever they wish during this period. Whether that be reading a book, watching a TV show, or listening to music — the time is entirely yours to use as you see fit. The treatment itself happens naturally around you.

Of course, an HBOT technician is with you at all times, making sure the treatment is moving forward as intended. They are there to answer any questions you may have, fill any requests, or just provide company during your HBOT session.

What Is Off-Label Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Used For?

At Plus by APN, we use HBOT to treat a wide variety of physical and mental health ailments that cause difficulty in living your life as you see fit. Our treatment efforts are always guided by the ever-evolving science of HBOT, and new potential for treatments are being discovered regularly.

Some of the most common conditions treated at Plus by APN using HBOT include:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression
  • Drug or alcohol rehabilitation
  • Healthy aging
  • Migraines
  • Personal wellness
  • Post-surgical wound healing
  • Traumatic brain injury

The most apparent difference between FDA-approved HBOT treatments and off-label treatments is using HBOT to treat mental health conditions. The healing properties of HBOT are easy to observe throughout the body, as increased oxygen stores rapidly accelerate tissue repair.

Recent evidence supports the conclusion that the same is true for the brain. People suffering from traumatic brain injury, for instance, can show rapid signs of healing and improvement after beginning HBOT.

For people with mental health disorders, such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, or PTSD, certain regions of the brain are underactive, and achieving recovery marks a period of accelerated neural repair and regrowth.

While much of the science supporting HBOT in mental health treatments is still new, the results show significant promise. Further, we’ve seen improvements in our own clients after receiving HBOT — either alone or combined with other treatments, and there is a growing demand for innovative treatment methods for mental health conditions.

The Science Supporting Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Understanding the science of HBOT depends on a few critical factors. First, there is the foundational element of HBOT that needs to be understood — that oxygen helps heal muscle and organ tissue, including the brain.

How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Regulates Healing Throughout the Body

In a sweeping literature review, scientists have found that the increased oxygen stores supplied by HBOT mark a number of physiological changes that aid in the process of tissue regeneration. This includes:

  • Managing and controlling inflammation
  • Modulating the use of proteins and receptor sites implicated in cell repair
  • Helping the body achieve stem-cell homeostasis
  • Regulating proteins, molecules, and receptor sites based on initial conditions

Researchers discovered that HBOT helps control dozens of different proteins, molecules, and receptor sites involved in tissue healing, growth, and regeneration.

Instead of simply increasing or decreasing the levels of these essential sources of healing, it helps the body to achieve homeostasis — or natural levels — creating the ideal environment for healing.

Interestingly, these changes depended largely on initial conditions. If the body was creating too much of a substance responsible for inflammation, for example, these levels were reduced closer to ideal levels. Similarly, if there were not enough of certain proteins involved in regeneration, these levels were increased.

These findings were discovered by assessing dozens of academic and clinical studies, providing a high level of confidence in the healing properties of HBOT.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and the Brain

The well-proven ability of HBOT to help heal the body has rapidly extended toward scientific investigations of using HBOT to help heal the brain. The most prolific source of research on HBOT and brain health is in people with traumatic brain injury, and the findings can be extended to healing from all sorts of mental health conditions.

In a clinical investigation of HBOT among people with traumatic brain injury, scientists discovered several important findings. Using detailed MRI techniques before and after HBOT treatment, researchers found that HBOT:

  • Helped the brain develop new blood vessels (cerebral angiogenesis)
  • Regenerated nerve fibers (neurogenesis)
  • Improved memory, processing speed, cognitive scores, and executive functioning

For patients with a traumatic brain injury, this leads to a rapid reduction in symptoms, accelerated healing, and improved recovery outcomes. Dozens of studies have confirmed these findings, making treatment for traumatic brain injury one of the most common off label uses for HBOT.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Mental Health Disorders

People experiencing mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder can see similar improvements following HBOT.

While these disorders are categorically different from traumatic brain injury, where there is direct physical trauma to the brain, the same mechanisms of healing found in traumatic brain injury patients can accelerate the healing process for mental health conditions.

For example, researchers from Yale University have found that neurogenesis and cerebral angiogenesis are both key indicators of successful depression treatment.

While these results were based on findings from traditional psychiatric medication treatment, the end-state of improved brain health is along parallel lines as those seen from HBOT treatment.

Other studies have investigated the role of HBOT in reducing mental health symptoms more directly. In a randomized controlled study on veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD, researchers found that HBOT:

  • Produced significant reductions in PTSD symptoms
  • Significantly reduced depression symptoms
  • Reduced anxiety symptoms significantly

MRI scans from the same study indicated that HBOT notably improved neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, likely accounting for many of the mental health benefits that were observed.

Similar studies have investigated countless other avenues of using HBOT as an effective mental health treatment for a wide variety of challenges and symptoms.

Using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy with Other Treatment Methods

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of HBOT is its ability to seamlessly integrate into a holistic mental health healing program. Since HBOT focuses on helping the body heal itself, rather than introducing medications, it can serve as an adjunct treatment alongside other evidence-based treatment interventions without interference.

In traditional psychiatry, for example, it may not be possible to combine two medications if one doesn’t work on its own. But you can combine medication management with HBOT, providing an increased likelihood of seeing rapid and lasting results from your mental health intervention.

HBOT can be used with countless other treatment methods available with Plus by APN.

Psychiatry and Medication Management

Psychiatry and medication management use time-tested medications to help people overcome a variety of mental health conditions. Working with a psychiatrist in medication management means they will be there to support you throughout the process, adjusting medications, dosages, and timing as needed to support your goals.

Ketamine Treatment

Ketamine treatment is an evidence-based practice that uses the medication ketamine to accelerate the therapeutic process. Ketamine treatment can provide rapid results in improving symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and much more.

Stellate Ganglion Block

A stellate ganglion block provides a small dose of local anesthetic to the stellate ganglion — a bundle of nerves that serves as a highway for the sympathetic nervous system. This treatment can almost instantaneously reduce many of the physical and psychological symptoms of PTSD or anxiety.

In-Person and Virtual Therapy

In-person and virtual therapy options provide you with a space to delve into the underlying causes and conditions of mental health disorders. Your therapist can aid you in every step of recovery and teach skills that can reduce your symptoms and help you thrive in recovery for years to come.

Get Started at Plus by APN

At Plus by APN, our team is dedicated to providing our clients with a multitude of evidence-based options to help improve their mental and holistic health. With a wide variety of traditional and innovative treatment options available, no stone is left unturned on your path to achieving total wellness and lasting recovery.

To get started with Plus by APN, reach out to our team using the live chat function on our website, by filling out our confidential online contact form, or by calling our team directly at 424.644.6486. Our team can help you decide which treatment option works best for you and will be there to support you every step of the way.


  • “Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Get the Facts.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy-get-facts. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.
  • Lindenmann, J et al. “Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Tissue Regeneration: A Literature Survey.” Biomedicines vol. 10,12 3145. 6 Dec. 2022, doi:10.3390/biomedicines10123145
  • Newton, Samuel & Duman, Ronald. (2004). Regulation of Neurogenesis and Angiogenesis in Depression. Current neurovascular research. 1. 261-7. 10.2174/1567202043362388.
  • Tal, Sigal, et al. “Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Can Induce Angiogenesis and Regeneration of Nerve Fibers in Traumatic Brain Injury Patients.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 11, 2017, p. 270271, https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2017.00508. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.