Ketamine Treatment for Depression

If you live with a major depressive disorder and medication doesn’t seem to help, you may be interested in ketamine treatment for depression.

In this article, we’re exploring the benefits of ketamine treatment for depression.

Ketamine Treatment for Depression

If you suffer from severe depression, you have likely tried traditional treatments like anti-depressants and changing your lifestyle. The treatments worked for a while, but eventually, your symptoms returned.

Doctors and researchers have been trying to find a solution to this problem, and a new study shows ketamine offers hope. Ketamine can give those with depression quick relief, and it promotes changes in the brain that do a better job at regulating moods.

Here’s what you need to know about ketamine treatment for depression.

Who Qualifies for Ketamine Treatment?

Depression is common, and each person experiences symptoms differently. The National Health Survey completed by the Center for Disease Control interviewed Americans in 2019 about their depressive symptoms in the two weeks before the survey.

Results showed that 11.5% had mild symptoms, 4.2% had moderate symptoms, and 2.8% had severe symptoms.

It is those 2.8% of respondents that may qualify for ketamine treatment. They are likely the ones who have tried multiple other methods of treatment without long-term success. Many refer to this as treatment-refractory or treatment-resistant depression.

Ketamine is a treatment used as a last resort for people with treatment-refractory depression.

Who Does Not Qualify for Ketamine Treatment?

There are guidelines doctors must follow when assessing people for ketamine treatment for depression. They do this for the benefit and safety of the patient, both short and long-term.

You will be disqualified if you have an active addiction to any other substance. A urine toxicology test is often given to determine if there are other drugs in your system. Ketamine, if mixed with other substances, can be dangerous.

If you have a history of psychosis, are pregnant, have uncontrolled hypertension, or any cardiovascular disease, you will not be recommended for ketamine treatment.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine has a reputation for being misused as “Special K” taken at people attending rave parties, anesthetic used when operating on pets, and anesthesia used on humans preparing for surgery.

The ketamine used to treat depression is a purified version administered in the veins via IV, by injection, or as a nasal spray.

Ketamine blocks glutamate, a chemical in the brain related to stress. When glutamate is blocked, the brain can regrow neurons that have been damaged by stress, like the ones that prevent depression.

How to Get Ketamine for Depression

Ketamine used to treat depression is not a pill that you get prescribed at your local pharmacy. It is not a medicine you will take home with you, ever. Instead, you must work with a psychiatrist trained explicitly in administering ketamine treatments.

Your psychiatrist will provide an extensive assessment of your psychological and physical health to determine if you are a good candidate. If you qualify, you and your doctor will create a treatment plan that includes delivery of ketamine and beneficial co-treatments.

Ketamine provides relief when used alone, but you can enjoy longer-lasting benefits when used in conjunction with other treatments.

Schedule an evaluation today.

Co-Treatments for Depression

Your psychiatrist may recommend supplementing your ketamine treatments with anti-depressants. The brain can experience neuroplasticity. Simply put, it can be trained to change. Your brain can be trained to produce a happier mood. Ketamine can help with this process. If you add anti-depressants, the training can be extended.

Another co-treatment is ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. It, too, helps in the retraining of your brain to be less depressed. Changing thoughts and feelings will lead to changed behaviors.

Not everyone has the same reason for their depressive symptoms. Genetics, environment, and past traumas all play a role. Therefore, your psychotherapists will use methods to treat those underlying issues.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and trauma resiliency model (TRM) are a few examples of therapies known to work well with ketamine treatment for depression.

These treatments may be especially beneficial when used during your ketamine-induced state in which you can achieve deep introspection.

What to Expect During Treatment

You may be wondering how you will feel when receiving ketamine treatments for depression. Will you get high? Will you hallucinate?

Questions like this are typical and appropriate.

As with anything, your effects may be different than others. Many factors, such as weight, age, and gender, factor into how you will feel during treatments.

With initial treatments, you will be given the smallest dose of ketamine. Most people initially experience a feeling of calmness and deep relaxation.

You are awake but may feel like you are in a light sleep. Some report feeling like they are floating, in a dreamlike state, or having an out-of-body experience. Some also report heightened senses in which colors are more vibrant or smells are more potent.

It is rare for the effects of a ketamine treatment to last longer than a day or two. For most, effects fade within the first 24 hours.

How Many Treatments Are Needed?

One treatment is not enough for long-lasting improvements. Some people participate in treatments multiple times within a month. Some more often, some less. Most psychiatrists create a plan that includes up to six ketamine treatments for depression.

The number of treatments can be adapted based on how well you receive your first treatments.

Does it Work?

Extensive research has explored whether ketamine works to improve symptoms in patients suffering from a major depressive disorder.

The results are positive; it works.

One study found that symptoms were significantly better within two weeks, and at the one-month check-in, they were the same. This may explain why the FDA has been eager to approve safe treatment formats to deliver ketamine to patients.

If you are interested in learning more about ketamine treatment for depression and whether it will work for you, reach out today to schedule an evaluation with a psychiatrist. Remember, the psychiatrist must be trained in administering ketamine treatments.
Severe depression can impact all areas of your life. Symptoms can be overwhelming. But now, with the help of ketamine, you can start feeling better soon.