Controlled infusion of ketamine has been shown recently to improve the lives of individuals suffering from treatment-resistant depression. It has been so successful that the FDA has now approved the use of the drug – the first time a new psychiatric drug has been passed for approval for over thirty years.
Despite this success researchers still remain somewhat in the dark as to how ketamine works when it comes to the treatment of depression. What they are especially eager to learn is how ketamine manages to allay and reverse the symptoms of depression within hours of being introduced to the body, as opposed to the days, weeks or even months taken by traditional depression medication.
It is Thought That Ketamine Stimulates the Brain in Order to Produce More Synapses
The leading theory behind the success of ketamine suggests that the drug stimulated the growth of synapses within the brain. Synapses are the connections and pathways between neurons, which the brain uses to pass information, sensations, memories and emotions.
A new study conducted by Weill Cornell Medicine has confirmed this to be the case, although there is a twist. Ketamine does indeed stimulate the growth of synapses, but only after it has induced changes in the way that the brain functions. This could explain why ketamine is so effective as a treatment for depression and works so rapidly.
Traditional anti-depressant medicine works differently. These medications affect the brain’s so-called ‘mood’ chemicals, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. With depression, the brain produces too many or too little of these ‘sadness’ or ‘happiness’ neurotransmitters leaving the sufferer feeling ‘sad’ even though they are receiving little in the way of stimuli that should make them feel ‘sad’.
Ketamine May be the ‘Helping Hand’ The Brain Needs to Function Normally Again
Ketamine instead affects glutamate, which is the brain’s most common neurotransmitter. Glutamine helps the brain learn and create new memories. The use of ketamine – it is now thought – helps the brain to function normally once again.
While encouraging, it is not yet known how effective ketamine is as a long-term solution for all forms of depression. Research into ketamine and depression is still in its infancy, although most initial signs are proving positive.
If you would like to explore the possibilities of using ketamine infusion therapy for depression or chronic pain, then please contact the Ketamine Institute of Michigan for further information. We can be contacted at (855) KETAMINE or by using the online contact form that is available on our website.