What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is an extensively used dissociative anesthetic first approved by the FDA in 1970. It has found a wide variety of uses since then: pediatric and adult treatment in surgery, emergency departments, ambulances, trauma medicine, and war zones. The World Health Organization lists ketamine as one of the most essential medications due to its therapeutic effects and its wide margin of safety.
Over the last decade, trusted institutions like Yale Medicine and the National Institutes of Health identified additional benefits of ketamine for the treatment of mood disorders and chronic pain. The use of ketamine for depression has been deemed by some experts as the “most important breakthrough in antidepressant treatment in decades.”
What Does Ketamine Treat?
Rapid relief for mood and pain disorders
Mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are rampant in today’s world. They affect people from all walks of life, no matter their background or age. According to the World Health Organization, 300 million people around the world have depression, including 16.2 million adults in the United States. Nearly 50% of all people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
There are many treatments for mood disorders including psychotherapy, pharmacological agents, and helpful techniques such as EMDR, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). However, many people find that one or more of these options are not providing lasting relief. In fact, a study in 2008 has found that most antidepressant drugs work no better than that of a placebo.
Since the year 2000, low-dose ketamine infusion therapy has been providing more scientific research and relief for those suffering from symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and pain syndromes. How does this physiologically happen? There are still many studies being conducted that are attempting to understand this further. We currently believe that ketamine plays a role in the NMDA receptor blocking pattern, increasing the level of glutamate between neuronal synapses. This, in turn, creates an environment where more optimal and healthy pathways are formed and strengthened that were not able to before as a direct result of the chronic psychological or pain condition. Ketamine infusion therapy allows for a reset of your brain and neuronal connections, effectively lifting you or your loved one out of the chronic state of despair. Some people who have lived their entire lives in a state of depression, anxiousness, fear, or pain are finding relief and are truly living life again in a profound and meaningful way.
A picture of a neuron shows new dendritic formations, or new neural growth, within just 2 hours of receiving ketamine.
A CT scan of a human brain. After ketamine treatments, the depressed brain is almost identical to the non depressed picture as new neural activity has awakened the depressed areas.