DEPRESSIONS NEGATIVE STIGMA
Research has shown that a deficiency in certain brain connections between specific neurons in the brain contributes to significant depression. When treating depression, most medications focus on the monoamine system, specifically SSRIs and SNRIs. These medications typically take weeks before they begin to work, if they work at all. This can be due to the fact that depression is linked to a different area of the brain, the glutamatergic system. When focusing on treating deficiencies in connections in this part of the brain, we have seen significant improvements in formerly treatment-resistant depression.
THE KETAMINE DIFFERENCE
So what’s the difference between ketamine and what we have known for years as antidepressants? For starters, they work on different parts of the brain. The standard antidepressants target the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are crucial to normal brain function, so they have been a primary focus in depression research. Ketamine targets a different set of neurotransmitters and receptors, known as the glutamatergic system. Ketamine is thought to rebalance and grow connections between brain cells that are involved in mood regulation by blocking glutamate and stimulating the brain’s ability to adapt.
When administered properly, patients have experienced fast relief from their depressive symptoms. While research continues to be conducted, currently we have seen promising results from patients who receive a series of six infusions over the course of two weeks. Because the ketamine dose is low, the side effects are minimal. We do a series of six infusions at this low dose, so the neurotransmitters and receptors begin to form new lasting connections. Typically patients will receive booster infusions, with the hope that eventually the brain will maintain the new connections and no longer need ketamine to prompt the development of new receptors and synapses. While there is still much to be learned about the efficacy of long-term use of ketamine, it has shown promising results in a field that hasn’t seen much progress in years.
RESULTS FROM KETAMINE