Ketamine Treatment for Depression
Ketamine is an emerging treatment for mental health conditions including depression. Ketamine IV treatment has shown to be effective for treatment-resistant depression when medications like antidepressants fail to bring relief.
But what is Ketamine, and how does Ketamine work for depression? Read on to learn more about this promising treatment.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a common anesthetic used in many surgeries. It is administered at high doses to act as a sedative.
Recently, research has discovered promising uses for low-dose Ketamine treatment outside of its FDA-approved use as an anesthetic.
Ketamine administered via IV for one to several sessions has shown success in alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and PTSD.
Ketamine treatment for depression administers the medication via IV at much lower doses than for anesthetic purposes, so patients do not lose consciousness. Most often, it causes a peaceful feeling of floating with continuous, pleasant thoughts.
Why Does Ketamine Work for Depression?
Ketamine treats depression by encouraging new synapses to form in the brain in a process called synaptogenesis.
Depression is caused by many things, but one common physiological factor is decreased synapses between neurons in areas of the brain that regulate mood and cognition, including the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.
Ketamine triggers synaptogenesis to rebuild these connections, which can help alleviate symptoms of depression and other mental illnesses.
Because Ketamine triggers this response rapidly, many patients report positive effects as soon as their first Ketamine IV session (results are individual and vary by patient).
How Does Ketamine Affect Brain Function?
Ketamine encourages the creation of new synaptic connections by affecting a neurotransmitter called glutamate.
Neurotransmitters are essentially messengers. Think of your nerve fibers as a continuous line broken by small gaps (synapses), with messages being communicated down the line to share specific sensory information, like pain or heat. They can also communicate between nerves and muscles to generate movement.
Neurotransmitters are released at the end of a nerve in response to a nerve impulse, and they cross the synaptic gaps between nerve fibers to help communicate down the line.
Glutamate is one of the key neurotransmitters responsible for sending signals between cells. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter, meaning it encourages the creation of electrical impulses, and it also helps to trigger synaptogenesis.
One of the reasons Ketamine works quickly is because this process begins as soon as the first session for many patients (results may vary). Antidepressants take a similar treatment approach, but they act on glutamate by first increasing the amount of serotonin.
Serotonin is another neurotransmitter responsible for many functions, including helping nerves communicate and regulating mood and sense of wellbeing. Increasing serotonin levels leads to a chain reaction that eventually impacts glutamate, but it typically takes two to four weeks and sometimes longer for this process to take effect.
Another reason Ketamine typically shows immediate effects in patients is because research indicates that it blocks the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, which can lead to relief from depression symptoms.
Why Does Ketamine Work on Treatment-Resistant Depression?
Along with its fast-acting properties, Ketamine treatment for depression is promising because it has been shown to be effective on depressive conditions that are resistant to conventional treatment methods.
Treatment-resistant depression refers to depressive conditions that are not improved by traditional treatment means, which include antidepressant medications and psychotherapy. Often, these treatment options fail to ease depression, or the negative side effects of the medication make it too difficult to continue.
Patients with treatment-resistant depression often feel hopeless about their condition, which can create a negative cycle that worsens their depression.
Ketamine IV treatment can provide relief where other medications fail because it targets different brain activities than traditional depression prescriptions.
As we discussed earlier, Ketamine Therapy affects the neurotransmitter glutamate to build new synaptic connections in the brain, and it also limits the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, which has shown to be a factor in depression.
If you’ve tried prescription mediations and therapy but can’t break free from your symptoms, Ketamine treatment for depression is an important option to consider. It could change your life.
Can I Have Ketamine IV Treatment if I’m Already on A Depression Treatment Plan?
Ketamine has an excellent safety profile and typically works well alongside other depression treatments, including talk therapy and many prescription medications. Having a multi-pronged treatment approach can help improve results and ease depression symptoms.
Prior to receiving your Ketamine IV therapy, your Defy Medical provider will review any medications you are taking to see if they will interfere with your Ketamine treatment.
Long-term benzodiazepine use, for example, can lessen the effects of Ketamine Therapy. It may be necessary to come off certain medications first prior to your Ketamine treatment (always consult with a medical provider prior to changing your medication regimen).
Once you begin Ketamine Treatment for depression, it’s often best to incorporate other methods of depression management into your overall care plan. These include:
- Calming activities like meditation and mindfulness exercises.
- Exercise, which can act as a natural mood enhancer.
- Healthy eating with an abundance of nutrients, since diet and poor nutrition can worsen depression symptoms. You may want to look into nutrition supplementation to make sure you’re getting all of the nutrients you need.
- Getting enough sleep, which is a cornerstone of good mental and physical health.
If the root cause of your depression stems from a hormone deficiency, you can begin hormone replacement therapy to replenish your levels, which may lessen or completely alleviate your depression symptoms. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy can help replenish your T3 and T4 levels, while successfully managing diabetes can help reduce the effects of this disease on your mood and overall wellbeing.
Defy Medical is a concierge practice that offers Ketamine Therapy, hormone replacement therapy, thyroid care, weight and diabetes management, and more to create a holistic care plan individualized to your needs.
What will My Ketamine Treatment for Depression Experience Be Like?
Prior to your Ketamine IV session, you will consult with an experienced Defy Medical provider to discuss your situation and goals for treatment.
This meeting will also cover your medical history and any medications you’re taking, so your provider has a complete picture of your health. Together, you will decide on an individualized Ketamine treatment plan that may include weekly or monthly Ketamine IV sessions, depending on your needs.
This session is also your opportunity to ask any questions, so you feel informed and comfortable with your Ketamine treatment plan.
To begin your Ketamine IV session, you will be settled comfortably into our specially designed Ketamine room, with a comfortable reclining chair, an eye mask, and headphones to play gentle music. These sessions typically last 30 minutes to an hour, sometimes longer.
During your Ketamine session, you may experience a light, euphoric feeling as well as stream-of-consciousness thoughts. You will remain awake throughout your session.
Patients typically come back to their senses within 15 minutes after the treatment ends, though they sometimes experience lingering dizziness and lightheadedness. We require you to have someone to drive you home after treatment because of these minor side effects, which typically clear up within 30 minutes to an hour.
Many patients report a positive shift in their mood and mental outlook as soon as the first Ketamine IV treatment (results vary by patient). Reported changes include:
- A feeling of peace, happiness, and wellbeing that had been missing.
- A restored and hopeful outlook on life.
- A sense that any problems you face are smaller and more manageable than they felt before.
- The feeling that you have risen above the difficulties you face and can gain a new perspective.
Ketamine treatment for depression often includes multiple sessions to receive the maximum benefit. It’s important to continue your Ketamine treatment for depression even if you begin to feel better early in the process, to help make sure the effects are impactful and long-lasting.
Is There Any Reason I Shouldn’t Get Ketamine Treatment for Depression?
Because of its use as an anesthetic, Ketamine has a long history of efficacy and safety for most people. There are certain health conditions to look out for, however. These include:
- Cardiovascular conditions and some chronic diseases, like liver failure.
- A history of addiction, including to Ketamine or benzodiazepines.
- Some psychotic disorders.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- High blood pressure, though it’s possible you can still receive Ketamine treatment depending on your unique circumstances
Prior to your Ketamine IV treatment, your Defy Medical provider will discuss any risks, potential side effects, and contraindications (reasons not to take the medication) with you.