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How Ketamine Can Help People With Treatment-Resistant Depression

by Mae Ferguson

According to a Harvard, while most people with depression will find help for their symptoms with medications like serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), about 30% of people won't be able to find relief. Thankfully, the FDA has approved a Ketamine-based medication that could help people who are unresponsive to other forms of treatment. Read on to learn more about this medication and how it can help.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a synthetic compound that's mainly been used during surgery to help maintain anesthesia and provide a trans-like state and pain relief. However, the drug has also been used to treat symptoms of asthma, seizures, and now depression.

Is it Safe?

When the drug is administered by health professionals, Ketamine is safe. The main contraindications are people with psychiatric comorbidities, poor blood pressure control, or eye problems. Your doctor can go over the side effects with you and make sure you're a good candidate.

At higher concentrations, Ketamine could produce a euphoria that could make those with addictive personalities prone to drug abuse. Thankfully, the drug itself is controlled, so you won't be able to expose yourself to these unsafe levels.

How is it Taken?

The antidepressant version of Ketamine—Esketamine—can be administered by an IV, or you can take it as a nasal spray.

Are There Advantages of Ketamine Versus SSRIs?

One great advantage of Ketamine over SSRIs is that it can start working within your system right away. Some people struggle with SSRIs because it takes a while for the medications to build up in your system to start relieving symptoms.

Another benefit of Ketamine is that it can help you avoid the emotional ups and downs of switching between antidepressants. One problem with SSRIs is that you may need to switch brands or up your dosage quite a few times before you see results. With Ketamine, you should be able to tell soon whether or not this is a helpful treatment or not.

While more studies need to be conducted, one study found that Ketamine infusions could be fast-acting agents for people struggling with suicidal ideation.

Another study found that after taking Ketamine, 70% of the participants responded well to the treatment. participants' PET scans were showing an increase of dopamine, which could help with mood regulation.

If you are struggling with resistant-treatment depression, reach out to your doctor for more details. He or she can go over the pros and cons of Ketamine and help you find alternative avenues to SSRIs.