Ketamine, a widely used anesthetic is able to quickly decrease symptoms of depression in patients that suffer from a major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and treatment-resistant depression.
Bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and PTSD are among the most excruciating experiences a human being can experience. These conditions can be so painful, that millions of people chose to commit suicide rather than having to live another second with these afflictions.
While the majority see these conditions as an emotional problem, and not a physical one; the ones suffering endure debilitating physical symptoms that only amplify their emotional struggles. A lack of understanding from society and loved ones coupled with the emotional and physical pain leads to an inability of leading a normal life.
In the present day, there is also a shortage on what medical treatments can do for such patients. These conditions often do not respond to regular antidepressant treatments and counseling.
However, extensive research has shown that infusions with ketamine, at sub-anesthetic doses, holds great promise for treating treatment-resistant depression. Ketamine has shown to induce impressive anti-depressant effects within 4 h post administration in patients who previously did not respond to multiple treatments.
However, a single infusion of subanesthetic doses of ketamine produces benefits that typically last approx. 3 weeks.
Ketamine Mechanism of Action
When administering ketamine via slow infusion, a cascade of events are triggered in the brain.
This cascade affects pathways and receptors, leading to a rapid growth of neural connections.
Ketamine essential causes a “rewiring” at the central nervous system level.
In addition, it has powerful anti-inflammatory effects which also contributes to its anti-depressive properties (since depression is closely associated with inflammation).
Ketamine affects the following:
- Increased Glutamic acid levels – glutamic acid has a calming effect, counteracts symptoms of stress, and promotes sleep
- Decreases Tryptophan metabolites – quinolinic acid and 3-hydroxykynurenine are products produced when tryptophan is metabolized. Quinolinic acid can act as a neurotoxin, while 3-hydroxykynurenine can generate free radicals and exacerbate and cause neuronal damage
- Increases Phosphatidylcholine levels – Phosphatidylcholine is a major component of cell membranes, and by increasing the level of this metabolite, it increases formation of connections between neurons in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus
- Increases Dopamine and Serotonin concentrations – low levels of these neurotransmitters are associated with depression
Ketamine infusion therapy Experience
Now ketamine can be administered through the following routes:
- Infusion (IV)
- Under the tongue
- Intramuscular injection
However, the preferred method of administrating ketamine is by a slow IV drip.
The reason for this is that by using this method, 100% of the infusion dose reaches the bloodstream without being metabolized.
As soon as the infusion begins, ketamine will take only a few seconds to reach the brain and it will quickly make its effects felt.
While undergoing the infusion, patients are not able to converse normally or stand. It does not cause loss of consciousness and the patients are fully aware of their surroundings.
The sensation has been described as weird. The body is fully relaxed while the mind is extremely active. When undergoing the ketamine therapy some people have experienced a dissociative effect.
When dissociation occurs, people partially lose awareness of their body, causing a sort of out-of-body experience. The mind is active and people often find themselves reflecting on current anxieties or past traumas.
However, instead of panicking or suffering, it is a very calm and pleasant journey.
Not all people that undergo the ketamine therapy experience the dissociation phenomenon.
Most enjoy the experience and let their mind wander with the thoughts without trying to control the process.
While for most patients the experience is pleasant, some might have short moments of fright. Those that enter the therapy with high anxiety are more likely feel uneasy and out of control. The key to this is just breathing, listen to calming music and trust that you are in a safe and medically controlled environment.
The weird sensation persists for the following 40 minutes after the infusion has ended. However, these effects are not a sign of depression relief, but simply a consequence of ketamine reaching the brain. Ketamine’s depression-relieving effects manifest only 4 h after the infusion therapy has ended.
Effects of Ketamine Infusion Treatment
The treatment does not cause instant happiness. Instead, it takes away the symptoms that do not allow a person to enjoy life events.
Ketamine infusion treatment relieves the following symptoms of depression:
- Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure from pleasurable activities)
- Feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, and sadness
- Sleep disturbance (insomnia/ excessive sleep)
- Difficulty making decisions and concentrating
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Social anxiety and avoidance
- Thoughts of suicide
The changes provoked by ketamine therapy are not always explosive and immediate, the sensation is instead gentler and more subtle.
Patients that have undergone the ketamine treatment have felt the following effects:
- The ability to genuinely feel positive emotions
- The ability to enjoy socializing with family and friends
- The ability to brushing off obstacles and stress factors that once plagued their mind
- Finding it easy to shower every day, sleep right, and generally willing to take care of themselves
- Improved energy levels
- Determination to finish projects that have dragged on for months or years (housekeeping, home repairs, organizing finances)
- Decreased social anxiety
- No more obsessing over unkind words and criticism
- No more obsessing over past trauma and memories
- Improved confidence when faced with authority figures
For more in-depth information on the personal experience and antidepressant effects of ketamine infusion treatment, we recommend you watch the following documentary.
Links to studies:
- Breakthrough Potential, Rapid Antidepressant Effects
- Antidepressant effects
- Efficacy and safety
- Treatment and Global Brain Connectivity
- Drug response phenotypes for k
- Intravenous ketamine in adults with treatment-resistant depression
- Antidepressant efficacy in extended responders to a single infusion
- Breakthrough Potential
- Antisuicidal Response Following K Infusion
- Intravenous k on dissociative stereotypy
If you would like more details on the subject or if you have any questions, objections, hateful comments or highly deserved praises to offer please do not hesitate to leave a comment.
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