For years, the standard treatments for depression have been different forms of talk therapy and various SSRI medications. This is still true to a large degree. If you are diagnosed with depression, your doctor will likely recommend therapy, SSRIs, or a combination of the two. But here's where things have changed: if these conventional treatments do not work, there is now a next-step solution. It's called ketamine, and it is a medication that can be infused into your veins during a hospital visit. Here are the basics you should know about ketamine.
What is ketamine?
Ketamine is a medication that causes patients to dissociate when they are under its influence. It is not new to the medical industry in general, as it has been used as an anesthetic for some time. Only its use as a depression treatment is new.
How does ketamine alleviate depression?
Although researchers are not exactly sure how ketamine works yet, they have some pretty reliable theories. Most think that ketamine works by binding to certain receptors in the brain and triggering them to release glutamate, a neurotransmitter that affects thoughts and cognition — usually in a way that eases the symptoms of depression and makes patients feel more positive and hopeful.
What happens when you go in for a ketamine infusion?
The experience should be very pleasant! Usually, you will be given the ketamine either in a hospital or a doctor's office. You'll lie back on a comfortable bed while your doctor inserts an IV. Before long, ketamine will be dripping into your veins via that IV. You'll start to feel very relaxed, and you may even fall asleep or lose consciousness. The treatment will only take about a half-hour, but you'll be drowsy for a few hours afterward.
How long does the relief last?
The relief can be permanent. Some patients experience relief from depression immediately after ketamine treatment and never need another treatment again. Others find that they benefit from having regular ketamine infusions every couple of months.
Are there any side effects to worry about?
Most of the side effects of ketamine are pretty mild and go away within a day of treatment. Some people experience nausea. Others may see an elevation in blood pressure that makes their ears ring or leads to a headache.
Ketamine has provided relief to many patients with depression. It's an easy and relatively safe treatment to undergo. For more information about a ketamine IV infusion as a treatment for depression, talk to a local physician.