Treatment with ketamine has proven to be extremely effective for patients with chronic depression and it is a promising option for those who have exhausted other options. Here at Karitas Ketamine Clinic in West Covina, we’ve seen the life-changing effects ketamine therapy can have on our patients suffering from depression. Ketamine for depression gives hope to patients, and we are here to help. 

We also understand that because this innovative treatment is relatively new, we need to do our part to provide high-quality, educational material to the public. That’s why we’ve started this blog. We want everyone who could benefit from this life-changing treatment to have access to safe, quality care at a price they can afford. But before you seek treatment, it’s helpful to understand how ketamine works to help severe depression. Continue reading to learn more and contact Karitas Ketamine Clinic to schedule an appointment with our West Covina health professionals.

Researchers at Yale have been experimenting with using controlled doses of ketamine delivered intravenously — the same process we use here at Karitas Ketamine Clinic in West Covina. The study has yielded dramatic results:

“more than half of participants show a significant decrease in depression symptoms after just 24 hours.”

Gerard Sanacora, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist at Yale Medicine who was involved in the studies said that an “exciting part of this discovery is that it came largely out of basic neuroscience research instead of by chance…it wasn’t just ‘let’s try this drug and see what happens.’” 

For people considering using ketamine for depression, the most important thing to remember is that your treatment plan needs to include other forms of treatment — like CBT therapy — in order to sustain the benefits. It has also been shown to be effective when taken in combination with other oral antidepressants. 

How Does It Work?

Researchers are still in the early stages of determining how ketamine works to help treat depression, though the results and effectiveness of the drug are encouraging more and more studies to be performed. Ketamine triggers glutamate production, which helps the brain create more neural connections and pathways. This allows patients to develop more positive thoughts and behaviors, rather than the circular negative thoughts that depression causes.

Unlike other organs, the brain changes continuously throughout your life. This phenomenon is called neuroplasticity. The brain’s neuroplasticity is something we’re just beginning to understand, and it has huge implications in the field of medicine. Essentially, the brain can be “rewired” and the functions of the brain can be transferred to a different location. For example, if a person sustains an injury to the left hemisphere that controls speech, the right hemisphere can take on that task and restore language abilities.

Researchers currently believe that the neuroplasticity of the brain is what allows ketamine to be so effective. The success of ketamine for depression is opening new avenues of research on how synaptic pathways affect our mood and mental illness. This may include drugs targeting particular areas of growth or new forms of therapy designed to promote or stabilize newly formed synapses.  

A leading theory proposes that ketamine works by stimulating the regrowth of synapses, or the connections between neurons. Doing so encourages more electrical activity in the brain by encouraging, “awakening” parts that may have previously been more sluggish and slow to react to stimuli. 

If you suffer from debilitating depression, you understand how the symptoms include feeling slow, foggy, and unable to react to the world as you normally would. Ketamine excites the circuits in your brain, allowing it to be more sensitive to sensory inputs, lifting you out of that depression slump. 

Currently, medications for depression only work while the drug is in your system, which is why patients need to take the medication daily. And when you stop taking the drug, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that cause your depression to get worse. Ketamine, on the other hand, helps regrow and reawaken the brain, giving you effects that last beyond the time that the drug is in your system. 

For years, scientists and doctors alike have believed that depression is caused by an imbalance of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, and the category of depression medication SSRIs were created to affect these chemicals and receptors in the brain. One of the most exciting parts of ketamine for depression is that it works in radically different ways than current SSRI medications, which means it is an excellent option for those who have not been able to find relief with SSRI medication.

Safety Concerns

Ketamine, in the form of the nasal spray esketamine, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat depression on March 5, 2019. The approval process was fast-tracked because of how effective ketamine has proven to be in helping people with treatment-resistant depression. Ketamine has been used as an anesthetic and for acute pain relief since the 1960s, and when used for depression, it is intravenously administered in doses much lower than those used for general anesthesia.

Here at Karitas Ketamine Clinic, your ketamine infusion is performed by an experienced anesthesia provider — not an RN — and you are monitored the entire time with state-of-the-art monitoring equipment.

Side Effects

While ketamine has proven to be extremely effective in treating depression, it is by no means a “cure” for depression. Those with chronic or treatment-resistant depression require multiple or regular doses to avoid relapsing. And, like any medication, some people do experience side effects such as dizziness, out-of-body experiences, and bladder problems. And, because ketamine for depression is relatively new, there are no long-term studies. Researchers are working on ways to enhance the safety and effectiveness of the drug.

Our mission is to provide access to ketamine infusions for all those who could potentially benefit from this life-changing treatment. That’s why our West Covina clinic offers some of the lowest-priced ketamine infusions in the entire nation. Follow our blog to learn more about ketamine for depression as well as other conditions for which ketamine can be useful — including severe anxiety, bipolar depression, and chronic pain. Visit our FAQ page and contact us today to set up an appointment.

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