In March of this year, the FDA gave their approval to Spravato, which is a nasal spray that contains esketamine, which is itself derived from the anesthetic ketamine. Spravato has been approved as a prescription-only drug given – along with another form of anti-depressant – to people who are proving to be resistant to normal treatments for depression.
Ketamine has been shown to be highly effective for people with treatment-resistant depression. The question is, why does ketamine succeed where other treatments fail? In addition to its success, ketamine seems to work incredibly fast, with some people reporting that after months or even years of depression, they began to feel positive effects within hours.
Why Does Ketamine Work so Effectively? There are Currently Two Theories…
There are currently two theories as to why ketamine is so effective when used to combat depression.
The first is that ketamine blocks a neurotransmitter called glutamate. The chemical glutamate is used by the brain to send signals from cell to cell, but too much glutamate can cause brain cells to become damaged. If someone suffering from depression is producing too much glutamate, then ketamine can be used to control the amount of the chemical the brain is producing.
The second – more controversial – theory, suggests that ketamine encourages the brain to release natural opioids. Studies have been done in which some patients received ketamine, and others received ketamine and an opioid blocker. More patients who were given the blocker claimed that they did not feel the positive effects of ketamine, as opposed to those in the study who were given ketamine without a blocker.
Ketamine Therapy is Currently Only Given to Those Who Have Proven Resistant to Traditional Treatments for Depression
Currently, only patients with treatment resistant depression who have failed a minimum of two anti-depressant treatments are eligible for ketamine infusion therapy for the treatment of depression. Typically, an infusion lasts between 30 minutes and an hour, and the patient is monitored throughout the treatment and for several hours after the infusion has been discontinued.
“I think that the FDA approval of ketamine is a huge landmark in the history of treating neuropsychiatric diseases,” said David Olson, an assistant professor at the University of California. “Ketamine really represents a leap forward in terms of new ideas for attacking depression and related neuropsychiatric diseases.”
If you would like to learn more about Ketamine treatment for depression or chronic pain, then please feel free to contact us at here at the Ketamine Center by phone at (855) 538-2646 or using our online contact form.