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Is Ketamine Therapy Effective in Treating Depression?

Jun 02, 2021
If we had to list the most common mental health disorders, depression would be way up there. According to the World Health Organization, over 260 million individuals across the board suffer from depression globally.

If we had to list the most common mental health disorders, depression would be way up there. According to the World Health Organization, over 260 million individuals across the board suffer from depression globally. If left untreated, depression can even lead to suicide, an occurrence that can leave many heartbroken and affect the labor market considerably.

This type of mental disorder cannot be defined as just normal sadness. If you go through a bitter experience, you’re likely to feel unhappy and sad. That’s normal. But when it comes to depression, it is usually characterized by other symptoms such as:

  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Extreme Sadness
  • Lack of interest in most activities, if not all
  • A change in sleep patterns
  • Weight changes
  • A shift in appetite
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Constant memory problems
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Irritable
  • Physical pain
  • Stomach issues
  • Headaches
  • Constant fatigue

As if the above symptoms are not enough, this mood disorder has been linked to autoimmune diseases. It is not unlikely for a person suffering from this specific mood disorder to also have diabetes, arthritis, and even cardiovascular issues.

While the cause of this type of mental disorder is not clear yet, there are a few contributing factors. As stated by the National Institute of Mental Health, it can be triggered by:

  • Environmental factors
  • Psychological factors
  • Genetic and biological factors

Before we proceed, this article aims to talk about one main treatment option for depression: Ketamine. But before we get into that, we must explore the other options.

Is Ketamine Therapy Effective in Treating Depression?

Treatment Options 

Regardless of how debilitating the condition is, it can and should be treated. Before treatment was discovered, the mood disorder under discussion could cause suicidal thoughts and even the action itself. The symptoms can affect someone’s career and relationships.

There are several ways depression can be treated, such as:

  • The use of Antidepressants such as SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors)
  • Lifestyle changes such as physical activity, a diet change and sleeping more
  • Psychotherapy methods such as Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy
  • Ketamine Therapy

Depending on how severe the condition is, one can receive one of the above options or a combination. But what do you do if the above choices don’t work? This is where Ketamine comes in to use.

Ketamine Treatment for Depression

In 1960, Ketamine was used in the War to treat injured militaries. The treatment was used as anesthesia. Today, the drug isn’t just used in prescription form to treat persistent pain and even PTSD. Two years ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permitted the drug to be used to treat depression. But not just any type of depression, but the treatment-resistant depression.

When all the other treatment choices don’t work, this is the choice most turn to.

Prior to the approval of the drug, it was still being used to treat the condition due to its effectiveness.

FDA approval has ensured that the drug’s availability is limited and is given by physicians accordingly. The only way to legally get access to this drug is through a certified doctor or physician to treat major depressive disorder, pain, or PTSD. Any other way of access to it would be considered illegal and for illegal use.

How Does the Therapy Work?

Ketamine functions as an antidepressant. However, there’s a major difference between antidepressants and Ketamine. For instance, normal antidepressants target areas in the brain, such as neurotransmitters that deal with the release and reabsorption of serotonin. Ketamine, on the other hand, targets the NMDA receptors found in the brain.

Let’s break apart how the drug works for a better understanding. Once the drug, Ketamine, is consumed, it attaches itself to the NMDA receptors. Once it has done this, the drug stimulates the release of a hormone known as glutamate.

Glutamate is what activates AMPA receptors to set about a process called synaptogenesis. Synaptogenesis causes the release of specific molecules that encourage neurons to communicate. This, according to research, has a positive impact on one’s cognitive process and mood.

How Is It Administered?

Two types of Ketamine are used in dealing with depression that has resisted other forms of treatments. They include:

  • The FDA approved Nasal Spray: Officially known as Spravato or Esketamine; this type uses the S molecule of Ketamine explicitly.
  • Intravenous Ketamine: Also known as Racemic Ketamine or IV, this type is infused into the blood. Unlike the Nasal Spray, it uses the S and R ketamine.

Is the Therapy Effective? 

Ketamine doesn’t always work for everyone, and research is yet to uncover why. But if it does, it’s quite effective. For instance, intravenous Ketamine is known to cause a positive response after a maximum of three blood infusions. However, if the doctor sees no response from the patient, they are advised to seek other treatment options. Perhaps even a Nasal Spray might work, as long as the patient remains under medical supervision while using it.

In line with the directon of the National Institute of Mental Health, Ketamine should be administered intravenously. This way, its effectiveness is increased and will likely work better than antidepressants.

What Are the Benefits of This Treatment? 

  • High rate of success: Research has found that it is highly effective in treating severe depression.
  • Acts quickly: Ketamine needs countable hours to start working and effectively treating your depression.
  • Provides pain relief: This takes out the need for narcotic and more addictive painkillers.
  • Has a calming effect: This makes it a suitable drug during surgery since it will help maintain low blood pressure.

In conclusion, Ketamine is not only approved but highly effective in treating major depression. It’s a much safer option than other medications that encourage the development of an addiction. This is true since only a few sessions can help reap positive results.

Here, at Advanced Spine and Pain Clinics of Minnesota, we offer effective ketamine therapy and many more. If you’re unsure where to look for help, look at our website to learn more about us. But if you’re ready to start treatment, book an appointment with us today. Do feel free to browse through our blog for more information.