Life with treatment-resistant depression often feels like you’re running on a hamster wheel as you try out various forms of medication and therapy in the hopes of finding what works. During those times when you feel like you are going nowhere, it helps to know that there are still treatments available that might be the answer you need.
Ketamine treatment is often reserved for the most complicated cases of depression, anxiety and PTSD. The use of ketamine for depression has been going on for many years, and recent research is revealing more positive news about how the medication can change the way your brain works and bring you relief.
People often associate ketamine with being a party drug, but this was never the intention. The use of ketamine goes way back to the 1970s when the FDA approved it for use as a strong anesthetic during surgery, and it was commonly used during the Vietnam War to treat injured soldiers.
During the 1980s, ketamine became a popular club drug that people misused for its dissociative effects. Eventually, this led to the FDA making it a federally controlled substance in an effort to control its casual use. While the drug might be dangerous in the hands of an inexperienced group of party-goers, professional therapists saw powerful benefits for their clients’ mental health when it is used cautiously and with educated intention.
Between 2000 and 2006, scientists were able to demonstrate that ketamine infusion therapy has the ability to alleviate some of the hardest to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety, and it began to be used off-label as a mental health treatment. By 2019, the FDA approved the use of a version used as a nasal spray called esketamine, which has become one of the most effective methods for helping people with treatment-resistant depression today.
Ketamine has the unique benefit of impacting multiple systems within the brain. The benefits of ketamine are most prominently seen in how it impacts the glutamate system. Glutamate is an important neurotransmitter in the brain that helps the neurons communicate. When someone is receiving ketamine in low, strategic doses, it has the effect of enhancing glutamate production.
Once glutamate is being freely released in the brain, it binds to specific AMDA receptors. This helps to revive or recreate neural connections that are often lost when someone experiences prolonged stress or depression. Getting the brain’s neurons to fire up and communicate properly helps people to be able to think clearer and enjoy more positive emotions.
One of the things that sets the benefits of ketamine apart from that of other drugs is that it tends to kick in faster than other types of medications. People often begin to feel a deep sense of relief from their symptoms within minutes of receiving their therapy. As the immediate effects of the medication wear off, people begin to feel calmer with fewer feelings of sadness. Thoughts of self-harm tend to dissipate in people who have this serious symptom, and it is common for anxious and racing thoughts to decrease or stop completely.
Ketamine treatment may be given as an injection or a nasal spray. Both of these options are effective for relieving the symptoms of depression and anxiety while producing minimal side effects. Although most people notice the benefits during or soon after their first treatment, it is common for your treatment plan to include multiple therapy sessions over several months to provide you with longer-term relief.
Receiving ketamine involves coming into the therapy clinic on an outpatient basis. After your initial assessment, your treatment team will help you determine which form of the medication is best for you. You’ll also be provided with information regarding the most common side effects, which tend to include some drowsiness or disorientation that dissipates over the course of the day.
For the best results, your ketamine treatment will likely also include other forms of therapy. As the ketamine strengthens neural connections in your brain, other therapies such as counseling, often become more effective. Combining therapies leads to breakthroughs in treatment-resistant depression that helps people to achieve a level of mental health that once felt impossible.
When it feels like nothing is working, our team at Mind Body Wellness in Franklin, TN encourages you to place your trust in us. We believe that ketamine for depression is an effective treatment that can transform how your brain works for long-lasting relief from your symptoms. Our treatment plans combine ketamine therapy with counseling and other forms of care for an intensive outpatient treatment program that addresses all of your mental health needs.