Ketamine to Treat Depression?
There’s a new drug called Esketamine for treatment-resistant depression. This is a type of depression where people basically do not respond to any of the conventional treatments. In the United States alone, there’s just over sixteen million people with depression. That’s just over 6 percent of the entire population of the country, and a third of those people do not respond to any of the treatments offered to them. These individuals are classified as having treatment resistant depression and it’s one of the most horrible things to comprehend. To know that you are depressed, you have a diagnosis of depression, but your psychiatrist just turns around and says, ‘sorry there’s nothing else I can do, you’ve tried everything.’ That is just like staring into the abyss.
Hopefully esketamine will prove a tremendous option, a real godsend for people with this type of a depression. If you have been diagnosed with depression and you’ve tried at least two different drugs, you maxed out the dose of those drugs & you’ve tried them for long enough, then you are defined as having treatment resistant depression. Ketamine is said to work in as little as one day. Realistically it might be a week, or maybe five days, but even that is incredible because the current treatments like SSRI’s and other common treatments for depression, take weeks to work. You have to wait four to six weeks for the treatment to fully kick in, this is amazing news for people with depression who want to get better as soon as possible.
Esketamine is incredibly restricted, so the supply of this is only through clinics and a psychiatrist. When a patient enrolls to take this medication, they are administered it in the psychiatrist’s office, as they have to be monitored for at least two hours afterwards, so there’s incredible restriction on the use and possession of this drug. This drug is based on ketamine, which was a huge party drug, particularly back in the 80’s & 90’s. It’s a hallucinogenic which people took to feel euphoric & creates an out of body feeling. Ketamine was really a popular recreational drug and esketamine is essentially pharmaceutically pure ketamine.
One of the ways ketamine has been traditionally used is as an anesthetic, a horse tranquilizer, and the side effects can be incredibly deadly if not used properly. If you overdose on ketamine, you are pretty much finished because it basically just shuts you down and you lose consciousness. While esketamine is administered via nasal spray at low to moderate doses, it still has a pain killing effect, an antidepressant effect, a little bit of euphoria, and it will impair your motor skills. When you take this, you won’t be able to drive a car, you are pretty much out of action, so this drug has to be used incredibly carefully. There is a concern that esketamine may yet reveal a potential for abuse.
The cost of this treatment is also high, around nine hundred dollars for one treatment cycle. Another concern with esketamine is that the drug was rushed through the FDA process, it did not go through all the trials that a normal drug goes through before being marketed and given a license. The decision to bring it to market quickly was based on the reasoning that it was necessary due to lack of other treatment options. Consequently, little is known about long-term side effects.