IV Ketamine: A Breakthrough for Depression

One of the biggest breakthroughs in recent years for the treatment of depression is actually the rediscovery of the drug Ketamine. While some may be familiar with ketamine as a club drug, a wealth of recent clinical evidence suggests that at smaller, slowly-infused dosages the drug has a profound therapeutic effect.

Ketamine was first discovered in 1962 and has been used in operating rooms as an FDA-approved, general anesthetic. Far from its illicit reputation, in medical settings anesthesiologists commonly choose ketamine as it is one of the safest and gentlest options for patients. In the early 1990’s, clinicians serendipitously discovered ketamine’s unique antidepressant quality. They began to noticed that their patients suffering from severe, treatment-resistant depression were, for the first time, feeling happy—and fast!

In the 20 years since, researchers and clinicians have continued to study and use ketamine for this novel, anti-depressant application. Unlike traditional antidepressants, ketamine does not target neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine. Instead, researchers now believe that ketamine stimulates a broad set of receptors in the brain, which in turn facilitates a process called synaptic neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity allows the brain to grow and change, and is directly linked to the improvement of depressive symptoms. While it appears that some traditional antidepressants can increase neuroplasticity, clinical studies suggest that ketamine simply increases it faster and more significantly.

In one of the largest IV-ketamine studies to date, Dr. Cristina Cusin at Massachusetts General Hospital found that between 60-70% of patients with treatment-resistant depression responded positively to treatment. Patients included in this study were those with persistent depressive symptoms, who had previously failed four or more antidepressant trials. Dr. Cusin herself remarked how surprising her results were: patients saw clinically significant improvements after only a single treatment. By comparison, traditional antidepressants can take 4-6 weeks to take effect—if they do at all.

Dr. Carlos Zarate, chief of Experimental Therapeutics at the National Institute of Mental Health, calls IV-ketamine treatment a “paradigm shift” for the field of psychiatry. Its rapid antidepressant effect promises to help those with the most severe forms of treatment-resistant depression, and IV-ketamine is especially effective at rapidly eradicating suicidal thoughts.
At Neuro Wellness Spa in Southern California, we recognize the potential this therapy has and aim to provide this treatment to those who need it most. Our team of trained clinicians and technicians offer a safe and comfortable experience, and will work with you and your referring clinician to determine if IV Ketamine Therapy is the most appropriate treatment. If you believe that you or one of your patients could benefit from IV-ketamine therapy, please contact us for a consultation.

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