By Ryan MacArthur |

Depression is one of the most common serious mood disorders affecting Americans today. The symptoms, having a persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, can cause severe issues with how a person thinks, feels or handles daily activities.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 16.2 million U.S. adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2016. Two of the most common treatments are antidepressant medications and counseling.

A New Treatment

For some patients, especially those dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), normal treatments offer little to no relief. In fact, 30% of people with depression don’t respond to traditional treatment options.

Ketamine, an anesthetic military surgeons have used since the Vietnam war, has recently become a more popular option to help combat depression and other mood disorders.

What Is Ketamine?

Scientists classify it as an anesthetic that shares similarities to drugs like PCP and nitrous oxide. As a class III scheduled drug, patients can only receive ketamine infusions in a hospital or medical setting.

Healthcare providers have used it as an anesthetic for years because the sedative causes amnesia without suppressing a patient’s respiratory function or lowering their blood pressure.

Lower doses can alter perception of sight and sound, offer pain relief, and put patients in dissociative states that are similar to an out-of-body experience.

What Does It Do?

Some traditional antidepressants can take up to eight weeks to become effective, however, a ketamine shot or intravenous infusion has been shown to offer relief in as little as 24 hours.

One of the more accepted theories is that the drug promotes the growth of new neural connections. This allows patients to remember painful events more clearly, which can help them visualize memories in a different light and better process any trauma.

The Risks

Like most drugs, ketamine use comes with risks. Some patients have experienced severe abdominal pain, kidney issues, and thickening of the bladder and urinary tract.

However, a greater concern for medical professionals is the lack of studies on the long-term effects of ketamine use.

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Image Source: Shutterstock

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