Depression is more than just feeling down for a short period of time or a result of certain events. It can be a debilitating condition that affects your ability to function daily. Physicians use a wide variety of medications to treat depression, but these do not always completely manage the symptoms. Ketamine is a medication that is showing promise in relieving depression, so individuals can function productively in daily life. And our team at Austin Ketamine Specialists are here to assure you that it’s a safe and effective option for you.
Ketamine first gained popularity in medicine as an anesthetic drug on the battlefields during the Vietnam War. It was administered in conjunction with other forms of anesthesia. Ketamine was fast-acting and wore off quickly, with minimal cardio-respiratory effects making it a safe and useful drug for many medical applications. These features also made it a good anesthetic for use in veterinary medicine.
For treatment resistant depression, ketamine is administered as an intravenous infusion. Research has found that it can be a very effective method for treatment-resistant forms of depression. A nasal form of the drug has recently been approved by the FDA, but is being found to be less effective and more difficult to dose appropriately than the intravenous route. Some evidence indicates ketamine may also be helpful in treating bipolar disorder and posttraumatic stress syndrome.
The exact mechanism of how ketamine relieves depression is not well understood at the current time. Most medications that treat depression work by changing the amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter chemical in the brain. Researchers believe ketamine works a different method of action, inhibiting the uptake of glutamate, a different brain chemical. This effect has a more immediate effect on brain chemistry and mood, which can be critical for individuals who are suicidal or self-harming. It may also affect the brain in other ways that are yet to be analyzed.
Thoughts of suicide are one of the most dangerous symptoms of clinical depression. Many of the standard medications for depression take weeks to become effective, which can present a hazard for individuals who are seriously depressed. This delay in effect is also true of talk therapy and electro-stimulation treatment. Ketamine has the advantage of reducing suicidal ideation immediately, so the patient begins to feel better from the very start of their treatment. Most medication only works while the drug is in the patient’s system. Ketamine has a more long-lasting effect, helping new brain connections to grow. These effects make it a promising addition to the tools that are now available to treat depression.
The use of ketamine for depression can have some very transient side effects that must be closely monitored by the physician. Individuals may experience temporary elevations in blood pressure and heart rate. Nausea and dizziness may also occur, but are easily temporized with medications. All side effects tend to resolve 2-3 hours after the treatment, if not more rapidly.
Individuals undergoing ketamine treatment may feel dissociated from their bodies or may have changes in perception of colors, noises and time, but these are transitory and quickly fade. The drug has not been shown to have significant potential for addiction, however tolerance can occur with abuse. The low doses used in the treatment of depression in a medical setting are generally not a problem. Individuals who have had substance abuse problems in the past, however, should inform their doctors of their history to ensure the ketamine treatment is safe for them.
Treatment of depression can often be a matter of trial and error in finding the right medication to help each individual patient. The delays in effectiveness of current medications can make this a difficult and sometimes dangerous process for the patient.
If you have experienced long-standing depression that does not respond to common types of medicine for depression, contact our office at Austin Ketamine Specialists. We’ll find the right medicine treatment for depression that can effectively relieve symptoms.