The Benefits of Ketamine in Mental Health Treatment


**This article was medically reviewed by Lynn Marie Morski, MD, JD at the request of JT Santana
to ensure accuracy. This blog post is NOT intended to replace medical attention nor should it be used as a substitute for medical practitioner’s diagnosis or treatment plan**

Ketamine treatment for mental health is proving to be a highly effective means of addressing mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. This unique medicine can help manage the symptoms of various mental illnesses and facilitate one’s journey to mental wellness. 

What Is Ketamine?

Before we walk through the benefits of ketamine treatment, it’s good to understand the medicine itself. Ketamine has a long, storied history in the world of medicine, and its horizons are constantly expanding.

The History of Ketamine

Doctors began human testing for ketamine in the sixties, and by 1970 it became approved by the FDA for human use. 

It was originally introduced as an anesthetic. Ketamine, in higher doses, can put a patient into a sleep state where they don’t feel pain, making it ideal for surgeries and other anesthetic applications.

What made ketamine unique was that it had minimal effect on the function of the heart and lungs, so it could be used without having to have ventilators and other monitoring equipment around. In situations where minimal medical equipment is available, such as on the battlefield, ketamine was especially useful. 

How Is Ketamine Used Today?

In recent decades, scientists have discovered that ketamine can be effectively used in mental health treatment

Ketamine binds to the NMDA receptors, which produces a surge in glutamate production. Glutamate is one of the most prominent neurotransmitters in the brain. 

The increased glutamate levels enhance the brain’s ability to form new neuron connections, meaning that it helps your brain form new neural pathways. Practically speaking, this can help to form new positive thought patterns to replace the negative ones in the mind. 

What Is Ketamine Treatment?

Ketamine treatment for depression is just that. By taking ketamine one or two times per week, one may experience fast, effective relief in one’s depression symptoms. 

Two main things that set ketamine apart from other depression treatments. First, ketamine works incredibly quickly. Unlike traditional antidepressants, many patients experience relief from their symptoms within 24 hours of their first ketamine treatment

Second, ketamine has also been shown to be more effective than conventional antidepressants. According to one study, typical antidepressants like SSRIs and SNRIs only improve symptoms in about 20% of people.

How Is Ketamine Administered?

Ketamine can be administered in several different ways. It is often given via IV ketamine infusion or via an injection. But these methods of ketamine infusion treatment can be expensive and time-consuming.

Another form of ketamine, known as esketamine, is a nasal spray. This method still requires you to go to a clinic and remain under doctor’s supervision for a few hours. 

At-home ketamine treatments can be a more accessible and convenient option. These sublingual tablets dissolve in the mouth and are absorbed underneath the tongue. Oral ketamine can be taken at home for maximum convenience and comfort.

What Are the Benefits of Ketamine?

Ketamine offers many different benefits. One of the most important uses of ketamine treatment is for its ability to address treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Treatment-resistant depression is a type of depression one is diagnosed with when they have responded to two courses of other forms of treatment, like SSRIs. 

Unfortunately, this is much more common than some might expect. Up to 30% of people diagnosed with depression will see no improvement with traditional antidepressants

Ketamine treatment can be enormously helpful in these situations. In fact, it is estimated to provide relief in cases of treatment-resistant depression about 70% of the time. This high level of effectiveness means that ketamine can provide relief for people who need it most. 

Fast-acting

Ketamine also works incredibly fast. As we said before, ketamine often works within 24 hours of the first dose. For people who have been struggling with depression for a long time or for people who have severe depression, the fast-acting nature of ketamine can be very valuable. 

Ketamine is a catalyst for change, but you are driving the change. Ketamine helps create the best conditions for you to create new healthy thought patterns and behaviors. Ketamine helps make the brain able to receive healing. 

Highly Effective

Finally, ketamine has higher rates of effectiveness than many other forms of mood disorder treatment. One study found that ketamine provided symptom relief within 24 hours for 64% of patients

This is an incredibly high success rate, which is even more noteworthy due to how quickly patients experienced improvement in their symptoms. Because of this high success rate, ketamine is changing how we think about mental health conditions. 

Ketamine is a catalyst for change, but you are driving the change. Ketamine helps create the best conditions for you to create new healthy thought patterns and behaviors. Ketamine helps make the brain able to receive healing. 

Is Ketamine Safe for Everybody?

Doctors have widely, and safely, used ketamine for over 50 years for various purposes. Ketamine is generally very safe. We have decades of data about how it impacts the body, making it one of the forms of psychedelic treatment whose physiologic effects we know the most about.

However, as with any drug, certain precautions should be taken to set the patient up for a safe and productive experience. There are a few potential side effects to be aware of as well.

Preparation and Integration 

Ketamine can lead to a slightly altered state of consciousness. For the most part, you may just feel relaxed and a little tired, but in some cases, patients experience hallucinations and even slightly altered perceptions of reality.

This is why preparation and integration are vital steps to make ketamine treatment effective. Preparation includes setting an intention for the experience and paying special attention to set and setting. “Set” refers to one’s mindset while “setting” encompasses everything about the environment where the treatment occurs.

Integration includes reflecting and talking about the insights and feelings that come up during the experience.

Who Can Benefit From Ketamine Treatment?

Many people stand to benefit from ketamine treatment. Although ketamine has mostly been researched as it relates to depression, ketamine treatment has also been shown to help with other mood disorders and mental health conditions.

Ketamine is a legal, safe, and effective alternative mental health treatment that continues to gain ground in the scientific community. In addition to depression, ketamine could also provide relief from anxiety, PTSD, and OCD. If you have struggled with any of these and have not found healing through other avenues, ketamine treatment may be able to help.

Sources:

Antidepressant Efficacy of Ketamine in Treatment-Resistant Major Depression: A Two-Site Randomized Controlled Trial | National Institutes of Health 

Depression: How effective are antidepressants? | Informed Health

How New Ketamine Drug Helps with Depression | Yale Medicine 

Treatment-resistant depression: therapeutic trends, challenges, and future directions | National Institutes of Health

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: