Ketamine is a drug historically used as a surgical anesthetic that shows incredible promise as a treatment for depression—especially in those cases where traditional antidepressants fail. Of the roughly 8 percent of people in the U.S. who suffer from depression, 30 percent do not respond to commonly prescribed medications. Researchers find that ketamine provides speedy and oftentimes dramatic improvement in these cases, offering a ray of light in a world where depression and anxiety are on the rise…especially among teenagers.
Depression is a mental disorder that affects 350 million people world wide. According to a medical paper published by Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, people in the United States 18 years and older make up 4.6% of those 350 million. The study, which surveyed 600,000—or 0.1836%—of the US population, concluded that those who spend more than 6 hours in front of a screen were at a greater risk for depression.
In April 2018, we shared some promising information about a Yale School of Medicine study that found ketamine to be highly effective in reducing the symptoms of depression in a 16-year old patient suffering from suicidal ideations. After having declared himself “hopeless about the prospect of psychiatric improvement,” the patient was treated with ketamine infusions. His condition quickly improved to the point where he could be discharged from his inpatient psychiatric facility and resume his schooling. This study, however, was limited in scope, as it only presented the results from this one patient.
Without getting into a discussion about the American healthcare system, it’s no secret that mental health treatment could stand to see some improvement. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 6.7% of Americans have suffered a major depressive episode. Still, depression is under-diagnosed and under-treated—especially in adolescents.