Ketamine for Depression

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What is depression?

Depression is a debilitating mood disorder that millions of people suffer from each year in the United States alone. The national average sits somewhere around 7 million American adults each year.

Depression can cause intense feelings of sadness and likely leads to isolation and withdrawal from loved ones or social activity in general.

This disorder deeply affects how you think and feel, and can also cause other emotional or physical side effects like persistent anxiety. You may find that you have difficulty performing everyday tasks, and some people even have suicidal thoughts and ideations.

There is no shame in going through a period of feeling down. Suffering from this condition is not a sign of weakness, and usually requires long-term treatment rather than short-term relief. Fortunately, many people suffering from depression can respond positively to at least one of the treatment options used in modern healthcare, whether that is an antidepressant drug or a new treatment like ketamine. Continue reading for more information.

Symptoms of Depression

Some people may only feel these symptoms once in their life, but generally, they are felt for multiple episodes. During these depressive episodes, symptoms will occur most of the day, almost every day. These symptoms and side effects can include:

  • Persistent feelings of hopelessness or emptiness
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Frequent bouts of tearfulness
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Changes in appetite (either weight loss or weight gain)
  • Slowed thinking and movements
  • Fixation on self-blame
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Unexplained physical aches and pains

For most suffering from this mental health disorder, these symptoms will create problems in day-to-day life, whether that is at work, in school, or your relationships with friends and family. Sometimes you may feel the symptoms without knowing what has caused them to start up.

Causes of Depression

Depressive disorders can be very complex, and medical science is still unsure about what exactly causes them. The most likely answer is that these conditions are caused by a variety of factors both internal and external, such as differences in biology, differences in brain chemistry, changes in hormones, and genetic history.


Research shows that people suffering from this condition could have corresponding physical changes within the brain itself. While the significance and side effects of these differences are still unknown, this might aid research in the future.

Brain Chemistry

Neurotransmitters are chemical substances within the brain, known as the body’s “chemical messengers”. Research is still going, but it may be that changes to the function and effect of the neurotransmitters in the brain (and how they interact with neurocircuits) may play a role in both the development of depression and the treatment thereof.


Hormone changes can occur during or after pregnancy or from conditions like thyroid problems.

Family History

Depression is more common in those who have blood relatives with a history of depressive disorders.

Risk Factors for Depression

While this condition is most commonly developed during the teenage years or early adulthood, any person can develop depression at any given time. It is more often diagnosed in women than in men, but that may be because women are statistically more likely to seek treatment than men.

Other factors and side effects that increase the risk of developing a depressive episode may include:
  • Personality traits like low self-esteem or a lack of independence
  • Traumatic events like abuse, the loss of a loved, or financial stress
  • Family or personal history of mental health conditions
  • Personal history of alcohol or drug abuse
  • Serious illness or chronic, like cancer, strokes, or heart disease

Complications of Depression

The longer it goes without treatment, the more likely your condition is to get worse. Over time, depression can take a heavy toll on your mental and physical health. Examples of other complications and side effects brought on by depression include:

  • Obesity, which is often a precursor to diabetes or heart disease
  • Physical illness
  • Pain or chronic pain
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Panic disorders
  • Social phobia
  • Problems at work or in school
  • Relationship troubles with friends or family
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Social isolation and withdrawal
  • Suicidal ideation or thoughts
  • Self-mutilation and self-harm

Can You Prevent Depression?

Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to prevent the development of a depressive episode. That said, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk.

Control stress: reducing stress can strengthen your brain’s resilience and boost your self-esteem as well.
Build a support net: you may find great comfort in your friends and family during your times of need.

Get treatment: the sooner you seek treatment, the less risk you stand of worsening symptoms
Different Types of Depressive Disorders

Clinical Depression

The blanket term for most cases. Also known by the name major depressive disorder. It is characterized by these key features:

  • Lack of interest in hobbies
  • Changes in sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in weight
  • Depressed mood
  • Feelings of self-hate and guilt
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder

Also known as dysthymia, this is a chronic (long-term) form of treatment-resistant depression. If you suffer from dysthymia, you may have periods without symptoms, but these typically last for less than two months. Symptoms and side effects can include:

  • Lack of interest in hobbies
  • Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Feelings of self-hate and guilt
  • Changes in appetite
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Bipolar Disorder

Sometimes referred to as bipolar depression or manic depression, this is a mood disorder that features periods of elevated mood referred to as mania. Most people suffering from bipolar disorder also suffer from intense episodes of major depression between their manic episodes.

Bipolar disorder also brings along a litany of physical and mental symptoms, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Irritability
  • Indecision
  • Anxiety
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Disorganization

Seasonal Affective Disorder

This type of disorder is thought to be caused by disturbances in the body’s natural circadian rhythm, usually corresponding with changes in the seasons.

Treatment for Depression

Luckily, modern medicine is always finding new treatments for the symptoms of depression. Your mental health provider may prescribe medications like an antidepressant drug, or you may be recommended to undergo therapy sessions. There are also innovative new treatments like ketamine infusions that are promising.

Ketamine Infusions for Depression Treatment

Ketamine is an innovative new treatment that some doctors are calling the biggest breakthrough in depression treatment in decades. Ketamine was first approved by the FDA as an anesthetic. Research in recent years has indicated that a series of IV ketamine infusions can bring relief in up to 80% of patients. Ketamine can help patients find relief from their depression symptoms within hours, rather than the weeks a traditional medication or antidepressant drug may take.

What is ketamine?

Ketamine is a medication first discovered in 1962. It was quickly tested and approved for use in the United States within a decade and saw extensive use as a surgical anesthetic in the Vietnam War. Ketamine is still used for anesthesia today, even finding its way onto the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.

New research in the last two decades indicates ketamine may actually be an important treatment for mood disorders as well as chronic pain conditions.

The most common and most effective method of administration is via intravenous (IV) infusion. IV ketamine infusion treatment consists of a series of low-dose infusions over a period of two or three weeks.

Unlike antidepressants, the effects of ketamine can provide relief within hours or minutes after the first infusion for some patients. That said, most individuals see their most significant development after their third infusion of ketamine.

How does ketamine work for depression?

While traditional medications and antidepressants can take months to work to relieve symptoms, ketamine is thought to help restore nerve connections within the brain and can foster new connections, effectively “rewiring the brain”. Researchers at The National Institute of Mental Health (NiMH) are responsible for much of the research behind ketamine for depressive illnesses, but other centers around the world are documenting their success with this effective new treatment

Research initially indicated that any particular antidepressant works by targeting serotonin, an important neurotransmitter in the brain thought to be related to depressive thoughts. However, new research in the last two decades indicates that serotonin only plays a part in the development of depressive conditions and nerve connections within the brain play a much more vital role than previously thought.

In initial studies performed with ketamine, over half of the participants experienced a large decrease in depressive symptoms within just 4 hours after infusion. Contrast ketamine and its response time with the typical antidepressant drug, which can take weeks or months at a time, and it becomes clear why ketamine is such an exciting new option for treatment – the effects of ketamine are felt much more rapidly, sometimes within 24 hours.

What options are available for ketamine treatment?

As of June 2020, IV ketamine infusion is generally not covered by insurance, although some clinics and patients report success with insurance companies.

Spravato for Depression Symptoms

In March 2019, the Food and Drug Administration approved a ketamine nasal spray called Spravato (esketamine). Approved for those with treatment-resistant depressive conditions, Spravato is an exciting alternative to ketamine infusions for those suffering from a depressive condition. Spravato has also been ordered for Veterans’ Affairs as a new form of combating veteran suicide on a national scale.


Psychotherapy is a form of therapy where you talk about your condition and symptoms with a mental health professional. Psychiatry also goes hand-in-hand with this process.

Psychotherapy can include cognitive-behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy. The different ways psychotherapy can help you fight your symptoms include help young:

  • Adjust in a time of crisis
  • Identify negative thoughts and behaviors
  • Examine relationships and experiences
  • Explore coping methods
  • Regain a sense of control
  • Develop the ability to tolerate and accept distress

If you or a loved one is suffering from depression and need more answers about depression, or you are considering Ketamine for Depression Treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be glad to help you find the best treatment for depression in your area.

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