Ketamine is an FDA approved medication that is generally used as an anesthetic during surgeries. The benefits of ketamine for depression were discovered by way of combination of need on the battlefield and serendipity, when ketamine proved to have a beneficial effect for people contemplating suicide. Since the 1970s, ongoing research has consistently demonstrated the remarkable benefits that ketamine has had for treating mental health disorders — especially treatment-resistant depression.
What is Treatment-Resistant Depression
There are several chemicals in the brain that help to regulate moods, most notably serotonin and norepinephrine. When these chemicals are out of balance, you can experience a range of depression symptoms. While scientists are not fully certain what the primary causes of depression are, there is some evidence to suggest that individuals who struggling with depression tend to have lower serotonin levels — and fewer receptors to absorb it.
In order to treat symptoms of depression, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be prescribed. Many people find relief once they find the right combination and dosage of SSRIs. However, for some individuals, depression symptoms do not improve despite medication. In these instances they may receive a diagnosis of treatment-resistant depression (TRD).
Other symptoms of treatment-resistant depression include:
- Inability to tolerate antidepressant medication due to side effects, regardless of dose.
- Depression symptoms do not improve after taking anti-depressants, even after adjusting dosages and trying two or more medications.
- Worsening of depression symptoms
- Symptoms of severe depression, including suicidal thoughts or ideation, mood swings, and isolation
How Does Ketamine Help with Treatment-Resistant Depression
One of the contributing factors of treatment-resistant depression is thought to be the result of fewer serotonin receptors in the brain. If there are not enough receptors, SSRIs will be largely ineffective. Studies have found that ketamine can stimulate receptor growth and improve the efficacy of SSRIs for treating depression.
For those that have been battling depression all their lives, the use of low-dose ketamine for their depression therapy brings hope that they can start to experience improvements. The new receptor growth also improves neuroplasticity — the brain’s ability to heal itself — which can be effective for helping to improve depression symptoms. Another positive side effect from low-dose ketamine therapy for anyone diagnosed with depression or treatment-resistant depression is its ability to increase dopamine release and absorption. Dopamine is another “feel good” chemical that also helps counteract depressive symptoms.
Most people who use ketamine to treat their depression report feeling significant improvements within the first few treatments. Many even report feeling general relief and an improvement in mood as soon as the first session of treatment has been finished.
Can Ketamine for Depression Replace SSRIs?
Ketamine for depression therapy is typically use as a supplemental treatment to taking SSRIs. Ketamine treatments are given in different circumstances — especially when SSRIs are not effective in helping to alleviate depressive symptoms.
However, ketamine for depression therapy can be administered in certain situations for some patients not taking SSRIs. Ketamine treatments can also begin at the same time someone starts taking SSRIs.
Ketamine for Depression: What to Expect During Treatment
The first part of the ketamine for depression process is a consultation. A thorough review of your medical history, depression symptoms, and previous treatments will help inform the course of treatment, including dosage and length of recommended treatment. Generally speaking, there are a series of treatments over several weeks — though individualized plans will vary.
Initially, three to four treatments are given in the first week. The second week, two to three treatments are given. In the third week, one or two treatments are given. Then, the patient moves to one treatment given bi-monthly or monthly.
Many people who have never used ketamine to treat their depression symptoms may be nervous about what to expect during treatment. Since ketamine is administered intravenously in low doses, there are very few side effects. On the whole you can expect:
- Wooziness or dizziness
- Feeling “high” or slightly euphoric
- Dissociation or feeling like you are leaving your body
- Visual and other sensory distortions
Sessions last for about 40 minutes to an hour, and patients are monitored by qualified specialists to ensure safety and comfort. Some effects, like dissociative feelings or wooziness, will dissipate within 20 minutes after the drip has been stopped. However, it is normal to still feel mildly sleepy after receiving treatment.
Ketamine Therapy in Southern California
If you are struggling with treatment-resistant depression or are interested in alternative therapies for treating your depression, ketamine therapy can provide the relief you have been looking for.
Neuro Wellness Spa provides a caring, safe, and supportive environment to help treat your depression. Schedule a consultation today to help you decide if ketamine therapy could benefit you. To learn more about ketamine therapy or schedule your consultation, please feel free to call us at 1-877-847-3984 or contact us today!