The recent FDA approval of the use of esketamine for treatment-resistant depression means many Americans suffering will soon find relief. The drug, Spravato, was approved for patients who have failed to respond at all to at least two other antidepressant medications. After years of clinical trials, the decision to officially approve Spravato took a month before a panel of experts voted in favor of the new treatment. Since treatment-resistant depression plagues so many among us, this new treatment has generated tremendous hope for depression sufferers, their loved ones, and their mental health clinicians.
Since it was developed in 2016, we’ve blogged several times about esketamine—the isomer of ketamine being developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, designed to rapidly alleviate the symptoms of treatment-resistant depression. Esketamine, which will be administered intranasally, was granted breakthrough medication status by the FDA and fast-tracked for approval. And the time for approval is here.
Over the past several years, ketamine has received a growing amount of media attention. As a treatment for depression, no other medication has shown this much promise since Prozac was discovered in the 1980s. Ketamine has been hailed as “miraculous,” and a “wonder drug,” alleviating depressive symptoms in up to 70% of patients…even those who failed to respond to depression treatment after depression treatment. What’s even more spectacular is the speed in which ketamine works—patients know whether ketamine will work for them after only 1-2 infusions.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for depression. Even though 17% of people will suffer from depression over the course of their lives, modern medicine is still searching for a comprehensive solution. Traditional antidepressant medications are the first line of treatment for depression, though they are only effective for about 40-70% of patients, depending on what source you quote. In recent years, ketamine infusions have emerged as one of the most effective depression treatment available, offering hope for even the most debilitating cases of depression and providing relief to 70% of patients. Inspired by the way ketamine works to treat depression, several pharmaceutical companies are well underway developing new medications that may revolutionize the way we treat this mental health disorder.
The importance of diagnosing and treating mental health disorders is incontestable: with the country’s suicide rate growing at a faster rate than ever—and with a number of celebrity suicides bringing much-needed awareness to the matter—there is no argument that mental wellbeing is an important health concern that deserves our attention and care. However, the physical implications of depression and anxiety are much less talked about—even though a new study shows that they can be as severe as the health concerns caused by obesity or smoking.
As one of Colorado’s leading ketamine clinics, we see first-hand the impact that mental health disorders can have on an individual. We see the pain that prevents a patient from engaging in their favorite hobbies or activities, or that keeps them home in bed rather than at the office, or that lets the dishes pile up in the sink day after day because they just can’t bring themselves to perform even the most mundane of household tasks.
For those suffering from PTSD, traditional treatments oftentimes fall short when it comes to alleviating symptoms. Antidepressants are effective in only about 40 percent of patients, and benzodiazepines—while commonly prescribed as a treatment for PTSD may actually worsen symptoms. A study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry revealed that PTSD patients who were prescribed benzodiazepines were almost twice as likely to attempt suicide. It goes without saying that PTSD patients need and deserve a more effective suite of treatment options.
More than 300 million people in the world suffer from clinical depression, but 50% of them will never seek treatment. Rather, these people suffer from such symptoms as sadness, inability to concentrate, and loss of appetite—with limited hope for improvement. Many individuals diagnosed with depression never admit that they need treatment in the first place. However, there are still others who recognize that they need depression treatment, but feel it is inaccessible to them.
The discovery of ketamine for depression is absolutely the biggest breakthrough we’ve seen in depression treatment in over 50 years. Since the early part of the century, study after study has demonstrated ketamine’s substantial rapid-acting effect in reducing depressive symptoms. Not surprisingly, the media have taken notice:Time Magazine, Scientific American, Business Insider, Forbes, Psychology Today, and National Public Radio are only a few of the media outlets that have reported on the use of ketamine for depression and the advancements that have been made as a result of ongoing research. It seems that, every day, there is a new discovery about how ketamine works to treat depression…
In the United States, at least one physician commits suicide every day. It’s the highest suicide rate of any profession, taking the lives of up to 40 physicians per every 100,000—a rate that is twice the national average. And until now, no one has really talked about it. However, a new documentary seeks to take a closer look at the deadly trend in medical care.
More than 20 veterans commit suicide every day. Organizations such as 22 Kill and Active Heroes have brought a lot of awareness to the mental healthcare needs of those who have served our nation, but the truth is, no matter how aware we are of suicidality in veterans, they are still choosing to take their own lives at a rate higher than any other population of people.
When it comes to depression, no one is exempt—especially those at the tops of their industries. In fact, as a result of the stress that goes hand-in-hand with their careers, plus the personal characteristics that have enabled them to become successful in the first place, C-level executives, business leaders and entrepreneurs are perhaps more susceptible to depression than other people.
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.
The mind-altering effects of psychedelic drugs may do more than just change a person’s state of consciousness. In a new study recently published in Cell Reports, researchers at the University of California, David found that substances such as LSD, DMT and MDMA actually increased the number of neural connections between brain cells. These findings could ultimately be used to repair the damaged neural connections oftentimes observed in those suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other psychiatric disorders.
Suicidal depression is not a black and white issue. There is no one cause: untreated depression, substance abuse, stress, failure to reach unrealistic expectations at home or at work—all of these may play a factor in suicidal ideation. There is also no one solution: psychotherapy, antidepressant medications, electroconvulsive therapy—although these options have been at the forefront of suicidal depression treatment for decades. Until now.
For patients suffering from mood disorders—especially severe depression or bipolar disorder—ketamine infusions can be a life-changing treatment. Effective in up to 70% of patients, ketamine rapidly alleviates the symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD and other potentially debilitating psychiatric conditions. The patients who respond to ketamine treatments are often able to reclaim their lives—return to work, enjoy the hobbies they had previously lost interest in, travel with their families, and otherwise live a rich and fulfilling life.
50 percent of patients diagnosed with depression do not respond to traditional antidepressants or psychotherapy, and a new study—the largest study of its kind—says it may have to do with genetics. Researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and University of Queensland studied the potential genetic risk factors of depression, and have linked 44 genes to the mental health disorder. Depression is the leading cause of disability for Americans between the ages of 15 and 44, and results in one million suicides annually.
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.
Because of the occasional stigma applied to ketamine treatments, we feel it is important to share as much information about ketamine infusions as possible. For our ketamine clinic, using social media to communicate useful information to the public has been quite effective. We keep our followers abreast of the latest ketamine research and news hoping that, by educating more people about the science behind ketamine infusions, more people will become open-minded to these potentially life-changing treatments.
It’s no secret that ketamine is a highly effective treatment for depression. Study after study has shown that intravenous ketamine is effective in improving depressive symptoms in about 70% of patients. And while IV ketamine infusions have emerged as the “gold standard” in administration, newer studies have explored other routes of administration: intramuscular, sublingual, and intranasal.