ketamine research

Ketamine Depression Treatment

An effective treatment for depression can make a significant difference in the quality of life when an individual has been diagnosed with the disorder. Recent research has shed light on an innovative form of ketamine depression treatment that may give relief to people who are suffering from the symptoms of the disorder.

Depressive Disorder

When someone is experiencing the mental health condition known as depressive disorder, they are more than just sad or going through a rough patch in their life. They are suffering from depression, a condition that requires medical care. If the disorder is left untreated, it can be devastating for the individual and for those around them.

Over 19 million adults in the US had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Some people will only have one depressive episode in their lifetime but for most people, it is a recurring condition. The episode could last a few months to several years if it is not treated.

When the disorder is detected and diagnosed early, an effective treatment plan can alleviate the symptoms so the individual can feel better. Treatment usually consists of psychotherapy, healthier lifestyle choices, and medication.

What is Ketamine?

Used primarily in the medical field as an anesthetic, ketamine was first used in the 1960s in Belgium, as an anesthesia medicine for animals. In 1970, the FDA approved the medication as an anesthetic for people in the US. Subsequently, it was used to treat injured soldiers on the battlefield in Vietnam.

More recently, studies have been conducted to determine its usefulness in treating depression. Researchers warn, however, that the drug should not be used casually or misused. Risks of unmonitored use include high blood pressure and dangerously slowed breathing. It can also cause long-term problems when not used properly and under medical supervision.

New Research on Ketamine Depression Treatment

When administered by a healthcare professional, ketamine depression treatment may prove effective in alleviating depressive disorder symptoms. Researchers recently conducted a study on specific parts of the brain in individuals experiencing depression, to determine how ketamine affects the disorder. In particular, researchers have found that it may be effective in treating cases of depression that do not respond to conventional treatments.

The authors of the most recent study conducted research to identify the effects ketamine has on the brain, in hopes of leading to better options for depression that is difficult to treat. Their research consisted of giving participants low doses of ketamine, to give them an anesthetic effect. They then took images of their brains using a PET camera.

The scientists, along with a separate research team, had noticed a low density of serotonin 1B receptors in the brains of individuals who had depression. The PET images would highlight the effects ketamine had on those receptors. Medical experts believe that lower levels of serotonin are linked to more severe experiences of depression.

In the study, researchers found that 70% of the participants responded positively to the ketamine depression treatment. After analyzing the PET images, they found that ketamine was reducing the output of serotonin and increasing the output of dopamine, which has been linked to mood regulation. As Dr. Johan Lundberg, the research group leader, explained, “We show for the first time that ketamine treatment increases the number of serotonin 1B receptors.”

Potential Treatment for Depression

Based on these and other research studies, ketamine depression treatment shows potential, particularly for those individuals with depressive disorder who have not responded to other treatment options. Experts do not completely understand the cause of depression in certain people. It could result from biological, genetic, or psychological factors. They are learning, though, that new evidence-based treatments, such as ketamine administered in a controlled, clinical setting, are effective.

The emphasis is on professionally supervised ketamine use. Individuals should never try to treat their own depression with the drug and ketamine should never be taken with alcohol, as it can be fatal.  Mental health professionals, however, have developed a safe protocol for medically supervised use that can be effective for some people suffering from depressive disorder.

Contact Recovery Without Walls for Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy

At Recovery Without Walls, we provide a unique experience to help you heal. Our approach involves exceptional psychotherapy, evidence-informed research, and integrative healing methods, to help you with the treatment of depression, anxiety, phobias, chronic pain, and addiction. We also offer help with anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage you to email or call us for care and answers to your questions. Our providers continue to work to help you through treatment and recovery. Contact us today to learn more about the link between mental illness and substance use disorder and to get help.