Twenty years ago, I began my course work as a pre-medical student at Seattle University in Washington. During my time in college, I worked as a research technician at the University of Washington-Dept of Neurology studying neurosyphilis. To elucidate more about the bacteria, Treponema pallidum, I would perform a variety of procedures on laboratory animals to reduce their pain. By happenstance, the medication that I used regularly was ketamine! I didn’t think much of it at the time, but a seed had been planted.
Traumatic experiences can cause a severe disturbance to the human psyche and soul. The overall lifetime prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is at 6.8% in the United States. The rate of PTSD is significantly higher in females (5.2%) versus males (1.8%). This stems not only from military experiences, but physical and emotional abuse, bullying, shaming, interpersonal violence, sexual trauma, and criminal acts.
According to the World Health Organization, depression has now surpassed HIV, AIDS, malaria, diabetes, and war as the leading cause of disability. Current antidepressants may take weeks to months to be effective. Unfortunately, one-third of patients are still unresponsive, and are called “treatment-resistant.” However, there are other options available.
Ketamine can be an incredibly powerful tool for the treatment of depression, PTSD, anxiety, OCD, trigeminal neuralgia, migraines, and chronic pain. When used properly with an experienced healthcare provider, ketamine can help catalyze transformational, ineffable experiences. But there are times that someone may have a negative, frightening, or challenging experience. So what can be done to prevent and address this?
Ketamine is made up of two enantiomers, one is called (R)-ketamine and the other is (S)-ketamine, also known as esketamine. All chemicals have two mirror images and when combined, it is called the racemic mixture. The generic version of ketamine contains both (R) and (S)-ketamine and has been approved by the FDA for use as a dissociative anesthetic agent since 1970.
There is a growing body of clinical evidence that has shown how ketamine works to produce antidepressant effects in those with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). These studies have used a common subanesthetic dose of 0.5 mg/kg over a period of 40 minutes when administered through an IV. An outpatient study from 2018, published in Molecular Psychiatry, recently added onto this body of research in order to find the optimal dose for antidepressant effects in those with TRD. They found that single IV doses of ketamine of 0.5 mg/kg and 1 mg/kg proved to be more effective than an active placebo in reducing depression over a 3-day period.
Have you wondered why homemade meals can sometimes be more emotionally satisfying compared to restaurant or fast food? For example, when you’re sick and your caretaker prepares a hot soup for you with homemade ingredients, it can make you feel better compared to soup from a can. A 2013 study took that concept and hypothesized: Is it possible to improve mood with tea that was prepared with a belief and an intention?
Dear Health Insurance Company Representative,
Thank you for being a part of the system that helps to reduce the cost of health care for me and my patients. I appreciate your commitment to collaborating and serving patients by covering the charges from unexpected healthcare fees. Because of your services it allows for greater coverage to a large group of people for disease prevention, improving health, and fully living life.
“No fresh flowers,” my doctor said. “Avoid salad. No uncooked food. And don’t bring visitors home.”
Treatment for breast cancer took the better part of a year, and a lot of that time, I spent alone. No wonder cancer sometimes comes with depression.
I have a dream that one day our society will view mental illness and chronic pain with deep understanding, compassion, and respect.
I have a dream that people will be able to feel their feelings and express them fully.
I have a dream that ketamine will be covered by insurance companies, so people can get the treatment they need.
Major depressive disorder affects nearly one in four teenagers. Some characteristics of this disorder include irritability, fatigue, and low self-esteem. A major concern for this group in particular is suicide, especially since suicide is the third leading cause of death amongst teenagers. With traditional antidepressants, SSRIs, taking weeks to months to be effective and with over 40% of teenagers being non-responsive to traditional treatments, ketamine therapy may be a fast-acting treatment alternative.
Patients who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are plagued with flashbacks, arousal dysfunctions, and avoidance symptoms. Unfortunately, there are few treatments that effectively treat all of PTSD’s symptoms. Research presented at the Society for Neuroscience suggest that ketamine may aid in ridding patients of fearful memories at the root of this disorder.
You don’t have the time nor money to get infusions, or perhaps you are not ready...whatever your reason is, we get it. As much as we love educating about ketamine and providing ketamine infusions, we’d love a world so healthy that we wouldn’t need to be in business.
However, the reality is there are a lot of people hurting, and we are honored to help them. But back to you all who aren’t ready or don’t ever want to find themselves in a ketamine clinic - here are 6 strategies to help you avoid getting a ketamine infusions:
As the only creatures in the animal kingdom to knowingly deprive ourselves of sleep, lack of sleep can be devastating for humans. Lack of sleep has remarkable effects on emotions, personality and actions. Otherwise patient parents will snap at unruly children, or a calm store clerk will react aggressively to a rude customer. Not only are our overtired bodies detrimental to interpersonal relationships, but to our health. Lack of sleep makes us more susceptible to medical conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, depression and obesity.
UC Berkeley neuroscientist Matthew Walker said, “The silent sleep loss epidemic is one of the greatest public health challenges we face in the 21st century.” By making simple changes, you can improve your sleep and therefore, improve your quality of life.
Researchers hypothesize that neurogenesis, or neuron growth, is an antidepressant action. This hypothesis is linked to the understanding that nearly all antidepressants increase birth of granule neurons in rodents. Ketamine, however, has such rapid antidepressant effects, within hours, suggesting that the mechanisms involved with ketamine are not involved with neuron birth. Instead, researchers hypothesized that ketamine’s rapid effects are due to it enhancing the maturation of neurons born previously.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology in 2018, specific brain waves are related to the anti-anxiety effects of ketamine. The brain waves involved in this function are called theta waves, found in the right frontal area of the brain. Ketamine can treat a wide variety of neurotic disorders, such as depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and PTSD, but researchers do not conclusively understand how ketamine works to relieve the symptoms of these disorders.
Bipolar disorder will affect 4.4% of U.S. adults at some point in their lives. It can cause dramatic shifts in the mood, energy, activity, impacting a person’s ability to live fully. One of the symptoms of bipolar disorder is anhedonia, which is the loss of ability to seek pleasure. Effective treatments for anhedonia have traditionally been lacking, but fortunately, recent research suggests that ketamine can help.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic condition affecting 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children in the United States. This disorder is characterized by intrusive, repetitive thoughts and behaviors. Interfering with work, interpersonal relationships, and in general, patients’ enjoyment of life, OCD can have a devastating effect due to its debilitating nature. The only FDA approved treatment for OCD are serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), but the effects of these are limited. Meaningful improvement can take up to 6 to 10 weeks and symptom relief is limited. To find a better way to treat this disorder, researchers at Columbia University conducted a study involving ketamine infusions.
Affecting about 37 million Americans, migraine headache attacks can be extremely painful and have a debilitating effect on patients’ lives. Associated with sensitivity to light, sound and smells; nausea; and vomiting, migraines can inhibit patients from going to work or enjoying day-to-day routine.
Those unresponsive to typical migraine treatments may feel particularly discouraged. When first and second-line drugs fail, what is a migraine sufferer to do? Fortunately, ketamine may be the answer!