Traditional antidepressant medications have been the go-to treatment option for many years, but they may not always provide the desired relief. As medical research continues to grow, alternative approaches are emerging. One such treatment is the use of ketamine for depression. This article will explore the potential benefits and considerations associated with ketamine treatment.
Why Do Healthcare Professionals Prefer Ketamine for Depression?
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic used in the medical field to induce anesthesia. Its primary role is to provide pain relief. Also, it is considered a recreational drug due to its hallucinogenic and dissociative properties. Originally developed in the 1960s for veterinary use, ketamine was later approved by the FDA in 1970 for human anesthesia.
It is known for its fast-acting nature and is a highly effective medication for depression. Unlike other commonly prescribed antidepressants, which often take weeks or even months to alleviate depression symptoms, ketamine offers more immediate relief.
Additionally, many side effects are associated with traditional antidepressants. They include drowsiness, nausea, insomnia, and constipation. All these symptoms are less commonly observed with ketamine. Moreover, weight gain is not typically associated with ketamine use.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depression is a mental health condition that can be cured. A person can experience depression at any age. The signs and symptoms of depression are almost similar among everyone. Several studies suggest that women tend to experience depression more often than men.
Types of Depression
Some of the most common types of depression include:
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
It is the most prevalent type of depression, also known as clinical depression. It is characterized by a loss of interest or pleasure in any activity. Also, it involves persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)
Previously known as dysthymia, this type of depression is characterized by a persistently depressed state. The duration is at least two years. Major depressive episodes may occasionally occur in people with PDD, along with milder depressive symptoms.
- Postpartum Depression (PPD)
After giving delivery, PPD can appear anywhere from a few weeks to several months later. PPD can develop within a few weeks to several months after giving birth. Extreme grief, anxiety, and tiredness are all part of this depression type. It could be hard for the mother to bond with the baby and perform other daily routine activities.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
SAD is a seasonal depression subtype. It typically appears during the autumn and winter when there is less sunlight. The most common symptoms involve lack of energy, more sleep, weight gain, and social seclusion. SAD is often cured with light therapy.
- Psychotic Depression
Psychotic symptoms are observed in this kind of depression. They might include delusions (having incorrect beliefs) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there). In addition to these symptoms, people with psychotic depression may also encounter depressive symptoms.
- Bipolar Disorder
While not strictly a type of depression, bipolar disorder involves cycles of depression. People experiencing bipolar disorder encounter symptoms resembling those of major depressive disorder.
The root cause of depression is still unknown, but it is believed that it often occurs due to the buildup of proteins in the person. Changes in hormone levels and brain chemistry can also contribute to depression. All these factors together affect the brain.
Ketamine is a medication that has shown optimistic results in treating severe depression, particularly in cases where other treatments failed to provide relief. However, it is crucial to understand that ketamine for depression is typically administered under medical supervision and is not a first-line treatment..
People with depression experience a range of emotions. People usually overcome depression through counseling from different therapists and psychiatrists. Also, they can use antidepressants recommended by their healthcare provider. Moreover, they may also encounter panic attacks and go through episodes of self-harming and suicidal thoughts.
What to Expect in Ketamine Therapy?
Ketamine infusion therapy is typically not recommended to patients in the initial stage of the treatment. Antidepressant medications are usually prescribed to the patient and are considered the first-line treatment. If the antidepressants prove ineffective, then intravenous (IV) infusions are administered in the arm. Its effects usually last from days to weeks.
The first step in ketamine therapy is receiving the infusions. Infusions are given three times during the first week of treatment, twice during the second, and once during the third. Individuals then often receive it once every month. A drug can be introduced into a muscle using an injection, or a person can have a pharmaceutical that dissolves under their tongue.
Ketamine can also be used to treat bipolar disorder. However, doctors often do not advise it for those who are actively manic, experiencing psychosis or have unstable cardiovascular disease.
Ketamine for depression is used through ketamine infusion therapy, where a controlled dose of the drug is administered intravenously.
When used under the supervision of a medical professional, ketamine is usually considered safe. But it has potential risks and effects, just like any other medication. Before considering using ketamine, it is essential to speak with a healthcare practitioner to evaluate your individual risks and benefits.
If you are experiencing depression and other treatments have proved ineffective, you may be a good candidate for ketamine therapy. However, consulting with a qualified healthcare professional is crucial to determine if ketamine is the right option for you.