The Impact Of Ketamine On Depression Treatment & Depression Research

Ketamine infusions are paving the way for new developments in depression treatment, and the way researchers understand the brain as a whole.

Developed in 1962 as a quick-acting anesthetic for use in operating rooms and on the battlefield, ketamine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1970. In the 1970s and 80s, abuse of the drug spread quickly across the country. Pretty soon, ketamine had earned a reputation as a party drug. But now it is being used as an effective treatment for anxiety and depression—as one of the most effective treatments for anxiety and depression that we’ve seen in over 50 years. Ketamine is fast-acting, so a patient might feel better in as little as a few hours after an infusion. Patients are eligible for ketamine infusions after having used other first-line depression treatments without success. 70% of patients experience relief through ketamine—a vast improvement of the 40% who experience relief with the use of traditional antidepressants.

Researchers are still not 100% sure why ketamine works so effectively as an antidepressant. One likely reason is that ketamine blocks NMDA receptors in the brain and activates AMPA receptors in a process called synaptogenesis. This process affects mood, thought patterns, and cognition. Ketamine may also reduce inflammation signals which affects mood disorders and help with neural communication in the brain.

Researchers found that the effects of ketamine begin as soon as 4 hours after an infusion, peaking at 72 hours, with results lasting as long as two weeks post-infusion. In a 2006 study, these results were replicated with 18 patients suffering from major depressive disorder who did not experience relief through other types of treatments. Compared to placebo participants, those who received ketamine infusions felt symptomatic improvement within 110 minutes of the infusion.

With ketamine being so effective for depression treatment, researchers are exploring the benefits of other hallucinogenic drugs for psychiatric patients—drugs like LSD and psilocybin. They are exploring whether these psychoactive drugs can help produce therapeutic effects without harmful results. A study in 2011 showed that psilocybin was able to significantly reduce depressive symptoms for up to 6 months for certain types of cancer patients. In a 2015 study, patients with life-threatening diseases who also experienced anxiety showed a reduction in psychiatric symptoms through the use of LSD.

With ketamine infusions now widely available throughout the country, those who haven’t responded to traditional depression treatments may be able to find new hope. Not only that, ketamine paves the way for other psychoactive drugs to be explored as potential options for depression treatments.

Contact Renew Ketamine

Renew Ketamine is Chicagoland’s leading provider of ketamine infusions for depression and pain. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out if you or a loved one is a candidate for ketamine infusion therapy.