Are you thinking to yourself, “how does Ketamine work for Depression?” First off all, if you are suffering from Depression, you are not alone. According to a 2017 study by The National Institute of Health (NIH), “An estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 7.1% of all U.S. adults.” However, 17.3 million is hardly a complete picture because in addition to major depression, many adults suffer from mild to moderate depression, sometimes for years. Additionally, a large number of cases are simply never reported. For example, NIH studies show that, “The prevalence of major depressive episode was higher among adult females (8.7%) compared to males (5.3%),” however, many clinicians believe this is largely because women are more likely to report depression. Depression knows no bounds, and many are susceptible and many more may not even realize that they suffer from depression. In many cases, those that suffer, suffer in silence and assume how they feel is normal. The good news is that the US has come a long way in advocating for mental health support. Though there are still many barriers to overcome, more and more people are beginning to realize that mental health is just as important as physical health. In fact, a growing body of the population has come to understand that they enjoy an overall better sense of well-being when both physical health and mental health are important in their lives.
My compassion for those that suffer from mood disorders like depression largely translates into the core mission of my practice: patient wellness. That may seem like a simplistic mission, but patient wellness is the heart of my practice and I deeply care about helping those that suffer. When I first began my studies over twenty years ago, studying pain and pain management was critically important to me because chronic pain and mood disorders have been largely misunderstood. Overtime, I developed expertise in central and peripheral mechanisms of pain and stress response. More specifically, I became very educated in identifying physiologic markers for chronic stress, and stress induced depression and anxiety. In my years of study, backed my clinical research, and professorship at Georgetown University, I found great promise in Ketamine for the treatment of mood disorders like depression. In fact, not only has Ketamine been around for a long-time, but there is a strong body of research supporting its use in the treatment of depression. While there are a number of medications on the market for the treatment of depression, I have found Ketamine to be superior in the treatment of depression when other methods have failed.
Time-and-time again I have seen patients who have tried everything to treat their depression, without avail, and finally they found hope in Ketamine IV Infusions for the treatment of their depression. Oftentimes however, the main barrier to treatment with Ketamine is the stigma surrounding its use, at which point I invite you to review my article on the safety of Ketamine.
How does Ketamine Work for the Treatment of Depression?
So, how does Ketamine work for the treatment of depression? As I mentioned earlier, there have been numerous studies on the positive effect of Ketamine on depression and suicide, so much so that the FDA has approved a sister compound, Esketamine for the treatment of depression. Scientists have investigated and studied the particular mechanisms of action of Ketamine on the brain, and what we know is that Ketamine increases one of our own existing brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters. The name of the specific transmitter is Glutamate and it is one that excites nerve cells at very specific receptors, which are the sites where the neurotransmitter work. Essentially, this increase in the chemical occurs in pyramidal cells of the brain that are impacted by depression. In effect, Ketamine works to retrain how the neurotransmitters respond. Moreover, Ketamine is non-addictive and its use tends to have a more lasting impact over traditional anti-depressants, with many patients enjoying real recovery from depression.
How do treatments work?
At this point you may be wondering how Ketamine IV Infusions for the treatment of depression work. Obviously the treatment approach is different than the standard pick up a prescription at the pharmacist. With Ketamine IV Infusions, all treatments are done in office by a licensed practitioner. In the case of my clinic, that means with me. The standard treatment includes (6) 45-60 minute sessions spread over a 2-3 week period. Research has shown that this regimen is the most effective for the treatment of depression. In general, patients feel effects within the first 4 treatments, and are recommended to continue their regular care with a mental health practitioner, as well as their current drug regimen. Like anything, a patient’s response to Ketamine is very individual with some patients feeling the effects right away, while others require all six, and occasionally more treatments. It is important to assess your response at treatment 3-4 to determine how you are responding and how we can optimize the dosing to suit your response.
If you would like to learn more about Ketamine IV Infusions for the treatment of depression I welcome you to come in for a free consultation so that we may discuss your particular case and determine a treatment plan that makes sense for you.