Ketamine for Depression

Ketamine has been around for several years. Most people are familiar with it’s uses in veterinary clinics and human surgeries where it’s used as an anesthetic. Today, research indicates that ketamine may also provide help to individuals struggling with depression.

Researching Ketamine as a Treatment for Severe Depression

Depression is a health crisis approximately 1 out of every 20 Americans struggles to live with. In the past, people suffering from depression tried to hide their symptoms, but times have changed. Now that the stigma surrounding depression has lifted, more people are turning to the medical profession for help.

While there are currently several FDA approved medications that help control depression symptoms, they typically takes 2-4 weeks before the patient benefits from the medicine. While they wait for it to kick in, they have no choice but to live with the dark thoughts and emotions depression brings into their lives. Researchers hope that ketamine provides a fast acting treatment that patients can use to control their symptoms while they wait for the slower acting medications to kick in.

Ketamine Reduces Suicidal Thoughts

In 2014, a study was created to test how suicidal patients responded to ketamine. In addition to receiving a single dose of ketamine via IV, the patients also when through standard suicide treatment procedures. The control group received a single dose of Midazolam. The results were surprising. Twenty-four hours after the patients received the ketamine, 55% of the individuals they reported that they were no longer contemplating suicide. Only 20% of the patients dosed with Midazolam reported a decrease in suicidal thoughts.

CAT scans indicate the depression causes the brain cells to shrink. A dose of ketamine reverses the process.

Ketamine for Long Term Depression

A Black Dog Institute professor, Colleen Loo, can’t stop wondering if ketamine could be the solution patients who suffer from long-term depression that hasn’t been alleviated by antidepressants currently on the market. She’s currently conducting a study to determine if ketamine should be considered in these cases. Her trial, which includes 200 participants, explores whether taking ketamine over an extended period of time keeps depression symptoms at bay, and what long term health problems extended exposure to ketamine creates. The study began in August 2018.

If Loo’s study shows that ketamine is safe to take for an extended time, it means that there is a great deal of hope for individuals who suffer from debilitating long-term depression.

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