Depression is a wide-reaching, often debilitating condition that affects more than 20 million Americans to varying degrees. Symptoms associated with depressive disorders include lethargy and feelings of hopelessness, suicidal tendencies, and social isolation.
Some depressed individuals are able to manage their symptoms with medication and/or therapy, and live relatively normal lives. For many others on the depression spectrum, however, traditional medication simply doesn’t work. After numerous failed attempts and countless combinations of anti-depressants, the majority of those individuals lose faith. California dual diagnosis treatment center Ocean Hills Recovery looks at why ketamine is being suggested for the treatment of depression.
Ketamine for Depression Treatment
That sobering fact may change in the near future, sources indicate. Ketamine, commonly prescribed anesthetic, with an additional unsavory reputation as a “party drug,” has shown promise in treating the symptoms of depression, especially thoughts of suicide.
First synthesized in 1962, ketamine is being touted as a potentially groundbreaking discovery that could drastically alter the depression treatment landscape for the foreseeable future. Health care professionals are hopeful that the drug will fill the gap for those patients who are resistant to treatment.
Depression by the Numbers
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, major depressive disorder (MDD) is the nation’s primary cause of disability among those aged 15 – 44. More common in women than men, MDD is seen in nearly 7 percent of American adults.
On a clinical level, the depression spectrum also includes seasonal depressive disorder and atypical depression. No matter the diagnosis, treatment for depression is typically multi-layered, consisting of individual or group counseling and prescribed medication.
Despite myriad breakthroughs in modern medicine, depression treatment has remained largely unchanged for more than 35 years. Household names such as Prozac, Cymbalta, Zoloft, and Ritalin are the heavy hitters among depression medication.
Key Takeaways from Ketamine Treatment Trials
The Actify year-long clinical study looked at how esketamine, a synthetically derived version of ketamine, affected patients with severe depression and a history of resistance to treatment. After collecting results gathered from 10 separate ketamine clinics, health care professionals reported a significant reduction in suicidal thoughts, coupled with long-lasting relief from the symptoms of depression.
Traumatic experiences are a prime culprit when it comes to depression and anxiety, and data indicates that ketamine infusions are strongly linked to drastically reduced levels of trauma-related stress.
Since depression or anxiety and addiction often go and-in-hand, ketamine may also benefit patients with a dual diagnosis — that is, those living with both depression and drug or alcohol addiction.
In California dual diagnosis treatment is available on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Forward-thinking addiction centers throughout the state now offer ketamine infusions as a treatment option.
It’s hard to ignore the potential implications of this new, exciting anti-depressant, which has the potential to transform the lives of millions living with treatment-resistant depression.
Possible Drawbacks of Ketamine Treatment vs California Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Despite the reported successful results of the Actify clinical trials, medical professionals caution that there is still much to learn about ketamine as an anti-depressant. A California dual diagnosis may involve ketamine treatments along with other medications. Proper dosage amounts may vary widely between patients, based on factors such as body type and weight, overall drug tolerance, and severity of depression.
Patients should also be aware of ketamine’s dissassociative properties. Recreational users of the drug frequently experience mild hallucinations, sensitivity to light and sound, pronounced lethargy, and loss of coordination. Similar side effects may occur following a prescribed ketamine infusion.
For now, ketamine must be taken intravenously, and a single treatment may take several hours. Several pharmaceutical companies are developing a much less invasive and time-consuming ketamine treatment, a nasal spray that’s simple to administer.
But the most glaring downside to ketamine treatment for depression is the drug’s hefty price tag: As of March 2018, a single intravenous ketamine treatment will set you back $600 on average. Multiply that number by 10, the recommended number of treatments, and ketamine becomes cost-prohibitive for the majority of patients.
Ketamine is still officially classified as an anesthetic, and only a handful of practitioners prescribe it for depression. Thus, ketamine is considered “off-label” and isn’t covered by most types of insurance.
Looking Towards the Bright Future of Depression Treatment
Proponents of ketamine infusion are hopeful that the treatment’s cost won’t be a roadblock for much longer. FDA approval of ketamine for depression is in the works, and the organization’s stamp of approval may just usher in a new era in depression treatment, pushing the term “treatment resistance” into obscurity.