Ketamine has the potential to treat even the most severe cases of depression within a matter of hours. It has changed the lives of thousands of Americans. It has brought hope to those who have had none. And yet researchers still don’t know exactly how this drug works, the antidepressive mechanism still largely a mystery.
The holiday season is here, bringing along with it dozens of parties, days upon days of shopping, countless hours of gift wrapping, decorating, cooking, baking, entertaining…and, for millions of Americans, stress and depression. From dealing with unwelcome guests and overexcited children, to diet and exercise woes, the demands of the holiday season can be dizzying, to say the least.
At Vitalitas Denver, we use ketamine to treat patients suffering from a wide range of chronic pain conditions. From CRPS and fibromyalgia to Lyme disease and more, ketamine is absolutely one of the most effective non-opioid pain management options available to those suffering from chronic pain. But there is another condition that we’ve been able to treat remarkably successfully through the administration of ketamine infusions: migraine headaches.
When it comes to the relationship between chronic pain and depression, it’s very much a chicken-or-the-egg type of debate. The physical manifestations of depression—while hard to explain—can be quite painful: back pain, migraine headaches, etc. The mental manifestations of chronic pain can be equally troubling: stress, difficulty sleeping, low self-esteem, etc. Chronic pain and depression oftentimes work in a vicious cycle, where pain exacerbates the symptoms of depression, which, in turn, exacerbates the feelings of physical pain. And the cycle continues…
A difficult-to-diagnose bacterial infection caused by specific types of tick bites, Lyme disease – and, more specifically, chronic Lyme disease – is a debilitating condition that can leave patients with a worse quality of life than those suffering from such disorders as congestive heart failure, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and arthritis. The symptoms of Lyme are diverse: fatigue, trouble sleeping, joint and muscle pain, depression, cognitive impairment, neuropathy, and headaches are just a few of the manifestations. No matter how chronic Lyme disease presents itself, the impact is almost always devastating.
You may or may not be familiar with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). CRPS is a rare – and often misunderstood – chronic pain condition. Doctors and researchers don’t understand exactly how or why CRPS develops, though it generally occurs after an injury, surgery, stroke or heart attack, and results in pain that is far worse than that of the initial injury. Like most chronic pain conditions, CRPS can improve – and can even go into remission! Of course, early intervention is key to generating the most effective pain management results.
It’s estimated that 36 million people in the United States struggle with opiate addiction. More than 80% of these addictions started with a prescribed opiate painkiller. With the opioid crisis officially declared a National State of Emergency, it’s important to know what your non-narcotic pain management options are in order to prevent substance abuse and addiction issues for you or your loved ones.
Ketamine has made quite a few headlines as of late. Originally introduced as an emergency room and battlefield anesthetic in the 1970s, ketamine has recently been heralded by emergency physicians and chronic pain specialists for its ability to treat chronic pain, and by mental healthcare practitioners for its ability to change the lives of patients suffering from even the most severe, treatment-resistant cases of depression.
Since 2012, it seems researchers have discovered a steady stream of new applications for ketamine. Introduced as an anesthetic in the early ‘70s, it has more recently gained popularity for its highly impressive antidepressant and antipsychotic qualities. Ketamine research shows that infusions, when administered following the proper protocol under expert supervision, dramatically improve depressive symptoms in upwards of 70% of patients. Similarly extraordinary results have manifested in ketamine studies pertaining to PTSD prevention and treatment, addiction treatment, and chronic pain management.
It is hard to argue against ketamine as the most promising depression treatment available today. In 70% of patients, ketamine effectively and rapidly improves depressive symptoms, even in those patients who have historically resisted other methods of treatment. Study after study shows the same thing: ketamine works, and it works significantly better than traditional antidepressants or psychotherapy.
It’s a frustrating situation, to have this miraculous drug – a drug that is capable of changing and saving lives – so readily available, and yet so inaccessible. Without FDA approval, the overwhelming majority of insurance companies will not cover the cost of ketamine infusion therapy, leaving millions of Americans to suffer in the despair of severe depression. Private label ketamine clinics are operating around the country, but average prices of $500-800 per infusion are inhibitive at best. Even at our clinic, offering the lowest-priced ketamine infusions in the country, this potentially life-changing treatment is still not an option for many people.
Ketamine has earned its clout as one of the most effective treatments for depression, bipolar disorder and PTSD currently available on the market. However, ketamine is also effective in pain management, specifically for the treatment of chronic pain conditions, such as CRPS, migraine headaches and as a fibromyalgia treatment. Pain is the #1 cause of physical disability in the world, but modern pain management options – including opiates and other medications, physical therapy, meditation, acupuncture and other complimentary and alternative techniques – tend to treat pain symptoms as they continue to occur, rather than stopping the pain from reoccurring altogether.
Accepting the fact that you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health disorder isn’t always easy, and seeking treatment in the face of shame and stigma requires immeasurable strength. Suicide rates are at their highest levels ever. Drug addiction is wreaking havoc across the nation. Mental health disorders affect one in four people, and yet, discrimination is still alive, well, and preventing those suffering from seeking help, finding hope, and recovering.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults. We have seen the life-changing effects that ketamine infusions can have on suicidally depressed adults, and in adults who have resisted other forms of depression treatment. When it comes to teen depression, however, few studies have explored the use of ketamine infusion therapy.
Depression is a chronic physical illness, with symptoms that are mostly invisible. Because of this, understanding depression – and knowing how to help someone with depression – is a challenge to those who are not afflicted. You walk on eggshells, afraid to say the wrong thing. You keep quiet, or give advice, albeit with good intentions, that may not be ideal or realistic for your friend or loved one to follow.