The Use of Ketamine as an Antidepressant

The Use of Ketamine as an Antidepressant


Depression affects over 300 million people worldwide and is considered to be a leading cause of disability in people of all ages. The most commonly used medications for depression treatment are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. However, only one third of patients suffering from major depressive disorder remain depression-free after being treated with SSRIs. When one medicine doesn’t provide relief, the next step is to either increase the dosage or switch to another SSRI medication. About seventy percent of patients will achieve remission after trying out different combinations or options. However, for thirty percent of patients, no such combination will work, and they are considered to be suffering from treatment-resistant depression.

Use of Ketamine in Medical Setting

Since its approval in 1970, ketamine’s primary role in medicine is as an anesthetic drug. Its subsequent abuse and usage as a party drug, created a certain stigma surrounding its usage for medical purposes. Still, a number of studies were conducted that examined ketamine’s antidepressant effects and possibility of its usage for a wide range of medical purposes. These studies showed encouraging results, and in 2019, esketamine was approved by FDA in the form of nasal spray, used to treat patients suffering from depression, who proved to be resistant to two or more antidepressant medicines.

While SSRI medications typically need weeks or months to show first results, ketamine was shown effective sometimes even after a first treatment with effects lasting as long as a week after the administration of a single dose.

This presents quite a breakthrough and opens a window of possibilities for a large number of patients, who only had access to SSRI-based medication and to which they did not respond. Still, caution and safety are very important. While benefits of ketamine usage as an antidepressant typically surpass associated risks in treatment-resistant patients, it is very important that providers appropriately screen patients prior to treating them with ketamine.

If you are one of the many suffering from depression – especially if it has been treatment-resistant, contact us for a free consultation. We will discussion your situation to determine if ketamine infusion is a viable treatment option for your specific case.

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