Ketamine is becoming quite the buzzword among psychiatrists and researchers alike who are exploring innovative treatment options for mental health conditions and chronic pain.
While the use of ketamine for mood disorders is relatively new, the drug itself is not. The FDA developed and approved ketamine as an anesthetic in 1962. Its use in clinical practice includes battlefields, operating rooms, and in pediatric medicine for minor procedures.
Ketamine and its Promising Potential:
Throughout the past two decades, its prominence in the field of psychiatry skyrocketed due to how quickly it can improve symptoms—with some studies showing ketamine alleviated depression within a few hours. The capability of ketamine to provide such fast relief is part of what is so exciting for the medical community. The most common antidepressants, SSRIs or SNRIs, can take several weeks to begin working, according to UNC Health psychiatrist Elizabeth Cox, MD. This delay can sometimes create the need for additional medications in the interim, such as benzodiazepines, which can be habit-forming or have unpleasant side effects.
Separate studies show ketamine works for people who failed to respond to other treatments, which is the case for approximately 10-20% of patients suffering from depression and is known as treatment-resistant depression (TRD). In fact, clinical studies show that about 50 percent of patients with TRD have a significant decrease in symptoms within 24 hours of a single dose of ketamine after having no success with six other traditional antidepressants.
More importantly, the improvement begins usually about 4 hours after the infusion, long after Ketamine has left the bloodstream, and continues to work for several weeks. This leads researchers to conclude that Ketamine, unlike traditional antidepressants, is physically improving how receptors in the brain communicate with each other—instead of the chemical effect from medications which only lasts while they remain in the bloodstream.
How Ketamine Works in the Brain:
Research suggests that the antidepressant effects of ketamine are connected with a surge in glutamate production.
Glutamate is released by nerve cells in the brain and is responsible for sending signals between nerve cells. The increase in glutamate caused by low, subanesthetic doses of ketamine leads to a series of events that result in synaptogenesis—effectively rewiring the brain. Glutamate also plays an important role in the change synapses undergo in response to experiences that underlie learning and memory.
This is crucial for patients experiencing chronic stress, anxiety, and depression as these and other mental health conditions damage neurons in the brain and their ability to communicate. During synaptogenesis, new synapses are formed and consequently reverse the damage done by the negative effects of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
The benefits of synaptogenesis induced by ketamine were first discovered in the 1990s at the Connecticut Mental Health Center by Dr. John Krystal, chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University. More recently, a 2019 study from a team led by neuroscientists and psychiatrists at Weill Cornell Medicine confirmed the beneficial effects of synaptogenesis on depression through the administration of ketamine.
The promising results from numerous studies led The Food and Drug Administration to approve a depression treatment based on ketamine in March of 2019. The move generated headlines in the medical community as the drug represented a new approach for dealing with a condition the World Health Organization has labeled a leading cause of disability worldwide with more than 264 million people affected.
The approval by the FDA also marked the first genuinely new type of psychiatric drug to be brought to market in more than three decades.
How Nova Vita Wellness Centers Can Help:
Through our IV Ketamine Infusion Therapy, Nova Vita Wellness Centers is mapping a path to normalcy for people living with mental health conditions.
Ketamine has been proven to be an effective treatment for:
Nova Vita Wellness Centers CEO and clinical director, Jorge Alvarez, CRNA has nearly two decades of anesthesiology experience and can help you find a ketamine treatment protocol tailored toward your specific needs.
Begin your journey on a path toward improved mental health by booking a consultation today.
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