Depression and anxiety affect millions of people in the United States each year. Even after an official diagnosis and treatment plan, many people don’t find the relief they’re looking for from traditional antidepressants or therapeutic treatments. Unfortunately, that often leads people with depression to seek different ways of self-medicating, which can lead to drinking, drug use, and more. People who can’t find a treatment option that works can even begin to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
Ketamine is an anesthetic drug that has recently come into the medical world as a new potential type of therapy for treating depression. It has been used in the past as a powerful drug that blocks pain. In more recent years, Ketamine has become a popular ‘club drug,’ often known as ‘Special K.’ Club-users take it because it can cause people to experience a sort of ‘out of body’ sensation. So, why is it being tossed into the field of treatment for depression?
How Does It Work?
Unfortunately, one of the reasons this therapy is still used with such caution is because we’re not 100% sure how or why it really works to treat depression. One theory, however, is that ketamine is supposed to change the way the cells in the brain talk to one another. It helps to block certain receptors that are associated with depression.
The administering of this drug is considered a type of ‘therapy’ because it is given through an IV directly into a vein. It’s not a simple prescription pill, like most antidepressants. In most cases, you’ll receive regular doses for a week or two, and follow it up with boosters every few weeks after that.
One of the biggest benefits to ketamine infusion therapy is how quickly it works. It’s important to understand that there are no real ‘quick fixes’ when it comes to treating depression. But, most antidepressants can take weeks just to start kicking in. Ketamine only takes hours for its users to feel effects.
Is it Safe to Use?
For now, ketamine is not approved by the FDA as a treatment for depression. But, it’s being used more frequently by people in the most dire of depressed states. Side effects can include feeling as though you’re having an out of body experience, or it can cause a spike in your blood pressure. Unfortunately, doctors don’t know much about what long-term side effects could be caused by the drug.
Do the benefits of this type of therapy outweigh the risks? That’s something that should be answered by someone who has gone through the therapy, or continues to do it on a regular basis. For now, there isn’t enough known about why ketamine helps with depression in order to consider it completely safe. It also isn’t covered by insurance, and each treatment can cost hundreds of dollars.
But, the results for people with depression who have used this form of therapy don’t lie: Ketamine is a fast and effective way to change the way your brain communicates in different areas. It provides a stronger solution than most antidepressants. If you’re struggling with anxiety and depression and other treatments haven’t worked, talk with your doctor about the possibility of ketamine infusion therapy. It could help to change the way you think immediately, and in the end, that could save your life.
Dr. Jeffrey Ditzell is a Psychiatrist in New York City and specializes in issues involving anxiety depression and adult ADHD. Ketamine Infusion Therapy is one of the many treatments Dr. Ditzell offers to treat a variety of mental health issues.