Ketamine for Treatment-Resistant Depression
It’s been reported that 70% of [ketamine infusion] patients felt the ease of symptoms in as little as one day…Source: Cleveland Clinic | Top 10 Medical Innovations | 2017
First things first: You may be asking yourself, “What is ketamine?” Well, it was once used mainly as an anesthetic on battlefields and in operating rooms. Now this medication is gaining ground as a promising treatment for some cases of major depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In the US, recent estimates show 16 million adults had an episode of major depression in the course of a year. Suicide rates rose substantially between 1999 and 2016, increasing by more than 30% in 25 states. Because of its rapid action, ketamine could have a role to play in helping to prevent suicide.
Why is ketamine exciting for treating depression?
If a person responds to ketamine drug , it can rapidly reduce suicidality (life-threatening thoughts and acts) and relieve other serious symptoms of depression. Ketamine also can be effective for treating depression combined with anxiety.
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What else should you know about ketamine?
- A much lower dose of ketamine is given for depression compared with the dose necessary for anesthesia.
- Like opioids, ketamine has addictive properties. It’s important to understand this when weighing risks and benefits. If you have a history of substance abuse –– such as alcohol or drugs –– it’s especially important for you and your doctor to consider whether ketamine is a good option for you.
- When IV (racemic) ketamine works, people usually respond to it within one to three infusions. If a person has no response at all, further infusions are unlikely to help. Instead, it’s probably best to try other treatments for depression.
- People who experience some relief from depression within one to three ketamine treatments are probably likely to extend these positive effects if the treatment is repeated several more times. The subsequent sessions may help prolong the effects of ketamine, rather than achieving further dramatic relief of symptoms. There are no standard guidelines for this. Many studies offer eight treatments initially (acute phase). After this, patient and doctor decide whether to taper or stop ketamine treatments or continue treatments at longer intervals.