Ketamine Offers Options

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine provides an option for people who have not found relief through other treatments.  One of its most promising features, and one that sets it apart from traditional antidepressants, is an extremely rapid onset. Depressive symptoms tend to improve within just 24 to 72 hours—a huge improvement over the 6-12 week waiting period of other medications. While it doesn’t work for everyone, Ketamine’s success rate of 85% is almost double that of traditional antidepressants (45%). It’s also highly effective in patients with treatment-resistant depression, even if their symptoms have persisted for decades without relief.

Ketamine is an anesthetic drug that blocks pain. It was first developed in the 1960s and was used to operate on soldiers during the Vietnam War. In 2000, researchers started studying Ketamine as a treatment for depression. As an antidepressant, Ketamine’s S-enantiomer, or “esKetamine,” has twice been designated a “breakthrough therapy” by the FDA. In August 2016, it was fast-tracked for development as a viable medication.

What is Ketamine used to treat?

Ketamine is FDA-approved as an anesthetic for surgery and diagnostic procedures. It’s also used to treat depression, fibromyalgia, migraines, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), OCD, ADHD, anxiety other mood disorders, and nerve-related pain.

Ketamine also shows promise in the treatment of addiction. Recent studies have linked Ketamine’s antagonism of NMDA receptors to destabilizing and even erasing memories that reinforce drinking. The drug has helped heroin addicts abstain following release from rehab.

How does it work?

​Researchers don’t know exactly how Ketamine works to treat depression, but they have some ideas. Unlike antidepressants, which work by shifting the balance of brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, Ketamine is thought to change the way brain cells communicate with each other. Ketamine blocks a type of receptor in the brain, known as NMDA, thought to play a role in depression. Recent studies find that Ketamine can have long-lasting effects on depression, even though the drug only stays in the body a short time. Ketamine also acts on other brain receptors — like opioid receptors, which affect pain and depression.

​How can it help me?

Usually, Ketamine is given as an IV into a vein, which is the quickest route for the medicine to get to the brain. Most people start with about six doses over a period of one to two weeks, and then get booster IVs thereafter.  Dr. Sambunaris will work with you to determine the best protocol for your situation. You may need to continue treatments for a year or more to see long-term results.

Dr. Sambunaris is a leader in this cutting-edge treatment here in Atlanta. To learn more, and see if Ketamine treatment might be an option for you, visit our site or call us at 678-580-6700.