What You Need to Know About Ketamine for Depression Treatment

Kirsty Ganovsik HealthDay Reporter

(Health Day)

TUESDAY, MAY 16, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Did you know that ketamine is one of the newest possible ways to treat depression?

To better understand ketamine therapy, what is ketamine therapy, how it works for depression, what types of depression it works for, its side effects, ketamine therapy Learn what to expect during your session.

Ketamine is a dissociative drug, with mind-altering chemistry that disconnects it from the body. It was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as an anesthetic for surgery, according to the National Library of Medicine. It has been used as a street drug under various names such as Special K.

Doctors sometimes prescribe ketamine for “off-label” (not FDA-approved) uses, such as managing pain and treating people with depression or suicidal thoughts.

As of 2019, the FDA approved a type of drug called esketamine, a nasal spray to treat a type of depression known as treatment-resistant depression.

How does ketamine therapy help with depression?

“As humans, everyone has their own network of defaults. People with depression and anxiety tend to see half-empty glasses,” says Kemin, director of the University of Cleveland Hospital Depression Ketamine Infusion Clinic. Dr. Gao said medical center.

“So ketamine temporarily loosens the default state.” [network]. This whole thing is what people call neuroplasticity,” he explained.

According to the University of Utah, neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to react flexibly. Ketamine has been shown to help with this by creating new neural pathways in the brain and strengthening existing neural pathways to help establish new ways of thinking.

According to University Hospital (UH), ketamine treatment causes this reshaping of the parts of the brain that regulate mood, helping to release negative thoughts and reduce symptoms of depression.

What types of depression does ketamine work for?

“We use ketamine infusions for bipolar and unipolar depression. [major depressive disorder]said Gao. “In terms of severity, most of the time, [of our patients] Probably…at least moderate depression, mostly treatment-resistant. ”

For people with treatment-resistant depression, standard treatments, such as antidepressants and psychotherapy, do not relieve symptoms, according to UH.

Reviews published in Open British Journal of Psychiatry Ketamine therapy showed strong and rapid antidepressant effects in people with treatment-resistant depression, suicidal ideation, bipolar depression, and unipolar depression. However, these effects were short-lived.

How does ketamine treatment for depression work?

Gao said that prior to ketamine infusion therapy for depression, a pre-examination and screening will be done to see if the health status and medication profile permits taking ketamine. On the day of your first treatment, a nurse will insert a ketamine drip. The entire session takes her 40-60 minutes.

“Ketamine infusions are weight-based,” Gao explained. “The benefits are basically mood stabilization. In other words, they [patients] Just don’t get depressed. And some even feel less anxious. ”

He also said his clinic uses research conducted by the University of Ottawa and the Royal Institute for Mental Health as a template to determine how long people should continue to take ketamine. The study found that after six treatments over two weeks, the majority of participants had a 50% or greater reduction in treatment-resistant depressive symptoms, with 25% in complete remission.

Gao explained that once this initial treatment schedule is complete, patients can begin spacing out treatments once a week or every few weeks, depending on their needs.

What are the side effects of ketamine?

According to UH, short-term side effects of ketamine include:

  • Feeling dissociated or detached from your body
  • euphoria
  • nausea
  • dizzy
  • blurred vision
  • headache
  • mood changes
  • light and sound sensitivity
  • sleepiness.

In the long term, ketamine can cause addiction, urinary and bladder problems, and liver damage.

According to the University of Utah, ketamine can increase heart rate and blood pressure, so patients with pre-existing health conditions should consult a doctor before undergoing treatment.

Gao noted that his practice has not yet documented long-term symptoms. The most common short-term ketamine effect is that “the patient feels like he or she is floating on the bed…some parts of the body feel somewhat larger or smaller.” About 20 to 30 minutes. ”

He said the main advantage of ketamine for depression is that it “temporarily relaxes the network and allows it to learn more.” [move] Towards a more positive mindset that makes you feel better. ”

Source: Keming Gao, MD, PhD, Director, Ketamine Infusion Clinic, University Hospital Cleveland Medical Center

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