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Can Ketamine Help Women Struggling with Depression?

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In honor of Women’s Month, we at Avesta Ketamine and Wellness hope to shine a light on women’s mental health and possible treatment options including ketamine treatments and IV vitamin infusions.

Depression in Females vs Males

As with any health condition, mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, affect women differently than they do men. In fact, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression compared to men¹. Further, depression presents itself differently in women than it does in men, such as feelings of sadness or stress and can cause issues with sleep while males may experience anger or irritability².

While a traditional method of treating depression or other mental illnesses would include antidepressants, it has been found that women have a higher sensitivity to common antidepressants causing their symptoms to be more treatment-resistant³.

Different Causes of Depression in Females

While natural hormone changes may cause women to experience mood changes and depressed feelings, that is not the only reason women may experience symptoms or feelings of depression¹. Hormone changes during puberty, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pregnancies, and menopause are only contributing factors to the greater feelings of depression that women may experience during these events.

The interactions and results of PMS and depression are not entirely known. Still, it is possible that the recurring, cyclical changes in hormones like estrogen and progesterone can disrupt mood-balancing chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, and can create stronger feelings of depression¹. Clinically, mood changes that occur with hormone levels can, and do impact mood in patients suffering from depression.

With menopause, for example, women experience rapid hormone fluctuations and depressive symptoms or feelings may arise when estrogen levels, in particular, are significantly lower than normal. This alone may not contribute to depression but other symptoms of menopause may contribute such as poor sleep, weight gain, or early onset menopause¹.

As with anyone, life circumstances including work demands, differing forms of abuse, anxiety, eating disorders, or substance misuse can also be a contributing factor to depression¹.

IV Ketamine infusions for depression anxiety ptsd chronic pain fibromyalgia CRPS Bethesda MD McLean VA Washington DC

Can Ketamine Help Women Struggling with Mental Illness?

Ketamine treatments have increased in place of traditional treatments for depression due to their effectiveness against common symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation³. While the efficacy of ketamine treatments has not been fully tested in differing genders, in an era of hyper-personalization in medicine, further research will hopefully be able to determine the effects of ketamine on females and males.

Early research has observed that the dosage amount between males and females can affect its overall efficacy for combating depression. When given a higher, controlled dose of ketamine, women reported lower feelings of depression throughout 24 hours⁴. The differences in the way ketamine affects males and females have been hypothesized to be due to sex differences and ovarian hormones⁵. While more research does need to be conducted, it is suggested that there is no difference between the human sexes and their response to ketamine treatments and that it is effective regardless of gender⁵.

Ketamine infusions are an effective way to treat depressive symptoms- even when depression is resistant to a traditional approach. Additionally, the effects of ketamine can be much more rapid than other medications, which may take weeks or months to take effect⁶.

Ketamine has been called the “anti-medication” medication due to the body’s reaction and effect to ketamine rather than the presence and effects of ketamine while in the body⁷. Antidepressants, on the other hand, were developed in response to a theory that those who struggled with depression suffered from low doses of serotonin. As a result, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were developed to treat symptoms of depression, however, low serotonin levels are not enough to explain or account for depressive symptoms. Following their popularity in prescriptions, SSRIs were found to only help about one-third of individuals.

It has also been found that serotonin accounts for less than 20 percent of neurotransmitters in the brain, while the other 80 percent are made up of neurotransmitters called glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)⁷. Ketamine works against depression by increasing glutamate in certain areas of the brain, which helps regulate your thoughts and emotions. Glutamate also helps your brain create and strengthen neural connections, leading to better thought processing and more positive thoughts and feelings⁶.

In addition to glutamate, ketamine can also increase a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that helps calm you down. One of the causes of depression is low glutamate and GABA, so restoring balance among these neurotransmitters helps reset your brain⁶.

Medical Alternatives to Treat Depression

If depression is a growing concern in your life but you don’t need medical treatment just yet, there are other ways to take action daily to help your mind and your body. Living a healthy life is not just about diet, but about fitness as well. Exercise can create a sense of accomplishment and an “I can do it” attitude that can be powerful when looking to combat feelings of depression.

While issues with family or friends may contribute to depressive feelings, reaching out and staying connected to loved ones, support groups, or therapists can be the difference in a breaking point or rock bottom situation².

IV Vitamins at Avesta

Another alternative may be to consider IV infusions. While these infusions may not be mental health specific, they can help to increase a general and overall feeling of well-being. At Avesta Ketamine and Wellness, we offer rehydration infusions, Myer’s cocktail vitamin infusions, glutathione infusions, immunity-boosting infusions, and vitamin D shots.

These specifically tailored IV therapy infusions can help to get nutrients back into your bloodstream that may be lacking or reduced. IV therapy can relieve the effects of various activities and occurrences that take a hefty toll on your body. The micronutrients in IV therapy support better cell functioning throughout your body, so you feel better in several ways once your treatment is complete. You feel more energized and have an improved sense of wellness while the effects last- making it an excellent way to prioritize your mental health.

As a woman-owned practice, we are grateful for opportunities like Women’s Month to shine the light on greater issues for females, including mental health. If you or a loved one is interested in ketamine or IV infusions, please contact Avesta Ketamine and Wellness or visit one of our locations in Bethesda, MD; McLean, VA; or Washington DC.

Ketamine Infusions in Bethesda, MD, McLean, VA and Washington, DC


¹ Women’s increased risk of depression. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from

² Depression: His versus hers. (2021, November 11).

³ Saland, S. K., Duclot, F., & Kabbaj, M. (2017). Integrative analysis of sex differences in the rapid antidepressant effects of ketamine in preclinical models for individualized clinical outcomes. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 14, 19–26.

⁴ Ponton, E., Turecki, G., & Nagy, C. (2021). Sex differences in the behavioral, molecular, and structural effects of ketamine treatment in depression. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 25(1), 75–84.

⁵ Gagne, C., Piot, A., & Brake, W. G. (2022). Depression, estrogens, and neuroinflammation: A preclinical review of ketamine treatment for mood disorders in women. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12, 797577.

⁶ Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2023, from

⁷ How ketamine drug helps with depression. (n.d.). Yale Medicine. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from

Additional Sources:

Ketamine infusion therapy for women’s health issues. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2023, from

Women and mental health. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Retrieved January 26, 2023, from

Photo by SHVETS production:

Author Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, FAAN Dr. Eshkevari is the lead clinician at Avesta, and is a long time researcher and educator in physiology, biophysics, and anesthesiology. She is passionate about assisting patients with retractable, difficult to treat mood disorders, and relies on the latest research to bring evidence to Avesta’s practice to better understand and serve patients.

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