Ketamine: An Old Drug for A New Treatment
Millions of people globally suffer from physical disorders and mental health illnesses which can result in the inability to function. The emotional and physical strain of these conditions can not only seem everlasting but also cause more severe ailments with devastating consequences.
Thankfully, many patients use ordinary and widely available therapy options, including psychotherapy, anti-depressants, and physical therapy. A growing number of patients are now choosing ketamine treatment, but can it safely relieve their distress?
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine was created in the early 1960s, gaining prominence as a combat anesthetic used on American frontline troops fighting in Vietnam. The drug is also commonplace in veterinary medicine. For more than 50 years, however, the drug’s mind-altering and psychedelic influences have been well documented. Today, the drug is earning approval as a treatment for numerous mental health illnesses, as well as symptoms related to chronic pain. Ketamine is available as therapy or nasal spray.
How Safe is Ketamine?
According to the experts at MedicalNewsToday, “Ketamine is safe to use in controlled medical practice. Used outside the approved limits, its adverse mental and physical health effects can be hazardous similar to other types of drugs.
The drug and its esketamine derivative are only dispensed as a prescription from a licensed medical professional. You should never take medication given by anyone without validating its legality and safety.
Dr. Steven Levine, MD, promotes the clinical use of ketamine when other antidepressants fail to treat depression. Once ketamine has been administered, the effects typically can last for days to weeks. “Generally, it’s administered in a tapering sequence in which patients receive three infusions the first week, two in the second week, once weekly for the next three weeks, and then moving to the maintenance of on average once per month,” he said.
Ketamine has also been used to manage symptoms of bipolar disorder but is not generally prescribed for patients with mania, active psychosis, or unstable cardiovascular disease. It is prescribed for children in rare cases.
Dr. Ming Kao celebrates ketamine therapy, promoting its power to dull pain through the drug’s metabolite created by the human liver. In the field of pain medicine, ketamine is used to treat chronic pain conditions involving central sensitization, or additional sensitivity throughout the senses.
Ketamine Nasal Spray
Spravato, the brand name of a ketamine nasal spray, received approval in 2019. “The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Psychopharmacologic Drug Advisory Committee and Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee jointly voted in favor of Spravato (esketamine) nasal spray CIII for adults living with treatment-resistant depression.”
An article in PharmacyTimes Online said Spravato “is a glutamate receptor modulator, thought to help restore synaptic connections in brain cells in people with major depressive disorder. It is believed to have a novel mechanism of action, meaning it is thought to work differently than currently available therapies for major depressive disorder.”
Common Question about Ketamine Therapy
Is Ketamine Treatment Safe?
Ketamine has been utilized in operating rooms and on battlefields as an anesthetic and painkiller since the 1960s. When administered by an experienced physician or clinician, the drug when used for depression is especially safe—and extremely effective.
Will ketamine be effective for me?
Every patient is different. Research over the last several years has shown the drug to be surprisingly effective for treating depression and other mental illnesses. Research has shown ketamine therapy to be useful in about 70 percent of patients, many of whom were resistant to other kinds of depression treatment. You should know within a few sessions whether ketamine will be helpful for your condition.
What kinds of side effects should I expect?
The most frequent side effects are mild nausea, drowsiness, and a short-term boost in blood pressure. Blood pressure and heart rate are closely monitored during your therapy session. There are less widespread side effects like agitation, vivid dreams, or moodiness. Any of these reactions should be immediately relayed to your doctor or clinic staff who may adjust the dosage for future sessions. Any side effects usually subside in an hour.
Is Ketamine A Good Option for You?
Though ketamine itself has a nearly 60-year history, its medicinal use in treating symptoms of mental health illnesses has only been explored for about two decades. Based on your conditions, symptoms, and under the right circumstances, the drug may help minimize distress from depression, anxiety, bipolar, and other mental health illnesses.