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Ketamine for Depression: Does It Help?

Is Ketamine an Anti-depressant?

Ketamine has been a popular pain-killer for years. In fact, it is one of the safest anesthetics available today. Interestingly, this powerful anesthetic can help fight treatment-resistant depression.

Ketamine has been found to help people with severe depression. These are new findings raising the hopes of affected persons that it can be a great treatment option for their mental health. This is because the drug can work where other antidepressants have failed.

Why ketamine for depression is great news

There are some common anti-depressants that most doctors will prescribe for their patients that are not exactly helpful for every patient. For example, the antidepressant SSRI affects nerve signaling because it passes through the monoamines in a person’s brain. The drug takes a long time to show any positive change in the patient, and for some people, they won't experience any relief even after using the medication. This means that there is a need to find better solutions for people with depression and anxiety. 

Ketamine works differently from regular anti-depressants because it affects the nerve signaling via the glutamate system. Although it is not clear how the effect is mediated, the drug still has a major effect. People with depression and suicidal thoughts feel relieved quickly after using ketamine, meaning it is working faster than other drugs.

This is a significant breakthrough for ketamine, which has been used in form of nasal spray to treat intractable depression. More people are considering new types of anti-depressants that work faster and have a better effect than others. 

Who benefits more from ketamine for depression?

People suffering from major depressive disorder that other drugs have been unable to treat stand more to gain from ketamine therapy. Patients battling treatment-resistant depression and acute suicidality will benefit greatly from ketamine. The drug can also have significant effects in anxiety, bipolar depression, PTSD, OCD, and eating disorders. Unfortunately, ketamine may not show any noticeable results in treating psychosis.

Evidence that ketamine therapy works

A study done at the Karolinska Institute has revealed that there are underlying molecular mechanisms. This is when it comes to the ketamine effect as an anti-depressant after experiments done on cells and also mice. The glutamine release when using ketamine is low and is linked to lower stress, mood disorders, and depression. This is because high glutamine levels lead to stress and depression, and researchers have been able to see the direct effect of ketamine on mental illnesses. 

Final thoughts

As more people continue to suffer from depression and stress, it is important to find solutions that will work well. The drugs and treatments should be able to last longer and work faster for most of the patients. More research is underway to determine how ketamine works with the glutamine system to relieve stress. It is important to continue with the research to ensure that they continue the use and study of the drug. Although some other treatment may also be necessary, it is important to find out how to use ketamine to help prevent depression. 

Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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